Saturday, 30 March 2013

Book #26 Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey

Length of Time In Possession : Roughly 3 years

I want to start by saying that 'The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall' is one of my favourite books of all time, easily top 3. I wrote my dissertation on it in university. However, when it came to the Bronte sisters I had only read the 'Big Three' (Eyre, Heights, Tenant) leaving three of Charlotte's novels remaining and one of Anne's.

As Anne is my favourite Bronte and I have issues with Charlotte, I went with her first. Agnes Grey is the story of a poor vicar's daughter who decides to try her hand at being a governess. The petted youngest daughter, her family don't think she'll be able to cut it, a story none too dissimilar from Anne's own life. It is clear that Anne drew on her life experience to write this novel.

The eponymous hero teaches first Tom and Mary-Ann and then Rosalie and Matilda; all are uppity spoiled brats who scorn her with indulgent parents who foist the blame for their children's behaviour on to Agnes. It is known that Anne did not have great experiences of her own with teaching, both as a governess and when she was at school.

Agnes Grey unfortunately was quite dull, though it hurts me to say it. The prose was rather essayist than novelist, and there is little character development or growth. The romance too has little depth and she and her suitor hardly have much time to connect.

It is her other novel Tenant, which truly lifts the lid on her life as a governess, as it is said that given she had a sheltered life at Haworth much of the debauchery shown in Tenant came from her witnessing less than salubrious lifestyles during her time in service.

By contrast Agnes Grey is rather ordinary and rather staid and I was most disappointed

Verdict   : 5/10

Destination : ebook storage

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