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Agnes Grey (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Sep 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New edition edition (5 Sept. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262166
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 12.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The one story in English literature in which style, characters and subject are in perfect keeping --George Moore --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Anne Brontë (1820-1849), sister of Charlotte and Emily was the youngest of six children and is best known for her novels Agnes Grey (1847) andThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). She was born in 1820 in Thornton, Yorkshire, where her father was the rector of Haworth from 1820. In 1821 her mother died and she and her sisters and brother were largely educated at home, spending much of their time on reading and composition. She was particularly close to Emily and together they invented the fantasy world of Gondal, the place where many of their poems were set. It was thought that during this time, under the influence of her Aunt Elisabeth, she developed a tendency towards religious melancholy.

In 1839 Anne worked as a governess to the Ingham family at Blake Hall and then later in 1841 in a similar position for the Robinson family at Thorpe Green Hall. Her brother Branwell joined her there as a tutor in 1843 with disastrous consequences after he fell in love with Mrs Robinson. It is widely believed that her portrait of the violent, alcoholic, Arthur Huntingdon in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is based on Branwell. Anne fell ill shortly after the publication of the book and died from tuberculosis the following May in Scarborough.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mrs Brontë tells the tale of Agnes Grey, a young governess of a little over 20 and her experience working for two families, The Bloomfields and their 3 children Tom, Mary Ann and Fanny, and with the Murrays and their two daughters Mathilda and Rosalie.
In writing her first novel, Mrs Brontë must have drawn from her own experiences in 1839 when she worked for the Ingham family at Blake Hall and from 1840 till 1845 with the Robinsons at Thorp Green Hall. As her sister Charlotte sated, this personal experience lies behind many of the characters and events as well as Agnes's feelings in the novel.
As a first novel, it show an astonishing maturity and technical accomplishment since "Agnes Grey" is in many ways a very personal story. Mrs Brontë describes as vividly as possible the strong pressures that a governess' life involved at that time - the isolation, the frustrations, the insensitive treatment of employers and their families. Actually it transpires in this novel that middle-class households used to consider a governess as little more than a servant thus undervaluing her role as an educator. And the author's view of such households is sharply cynical: they are self-satisfied, vulgar, small-minded snobs who delight in social pretension. They are mercilessly depicted in their moral emptiness and Agnes actually suffers from moral isolation which becomes more and more oppressive and alienating, especially during her stay with the Murrays. In this family Agnes feel deprived from ordinary human kindness and warmth of affection so much so that she falls into depression because she feels that her moral identity is being destroyed, no longer confident in her "distinctions of right and wrong".
A remarkable novel about a young woman and such issues as moral behaviour, moral responsibility and individual integrity.
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Format: Paperback
Although I didn't think this book was as good as Anne Bronte's other novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and it didn't have the feel of a must-read classic like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, there was still a lot to like about Agnes Grey.

The plot is simple, plain and linear. It's the story of a young woman in 19th century England who goes out to work as a governess when her family fall on hard times. Unfortunately Tom, Mary Ann and Fanny Bloomfield are three of the most badly-behaved children imaginable. When her short, unhappy time with the Bloomfields comes to an end, Agnes finds another situation with two older pupils, Rosalie and Matilda Murray. This second position is not much better than the first - the Murray girls are selfish and thoughtless and the only thing that makes Agnes's life bearable is her friendship with Mr Weston, the village curate.

Agnes Grey has an autobiographical feel because Anne Bronte herself had worked as a governess and was able to draw on her own personal experiences to show how servants were often treated with cruelty and contempt by their employers. I could sympathise with Agnes as I would soon have lost my patience with the spoilt Bloomfield children and the self-centred, inconsiderate Murrays. I also thought it was unfair that the parents expected Agnes to control their children without actually giving her any real authority over them. It was such a difficult position to be in. However, I found it slightly disappointing that Agnes seemed prepared to just accept things the way they were and not do anything to change the situation. The book was more about tolerance and perseverance than about taking action to try to make things better.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was very eager to read "Agnes Grey" after greatly enjoying "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall", which now stands very high in my list of great Victorian novels. Agnes Grey is a very different book - for one thing it is very short at well under 200 pages, and the story is deceptively simple. Agnes, who narrates her own story, is, like the author herself, a youngest child of a clergyman: when her father loses his already modest fortune and sinks into depression Agnes decides to earn her own living as a governess (as Anne also did for several years), and the book is the story of her dealings with the two families she works for before finally finding true love, (I hope nobody will think this is a "spoiler" - the hero does not appear until quite late in the tale, and it fairly obvious what will happen almost as soon as he is mentioned.)

So far as plot goes this book is a disappointment when compared with "Wildfell Hall", for that has a far more exciting story. And Agnes is not terribly appealing as a heroine: though kind-hearted and intelligent she is perhaps overly pious, timid, and emotional. However, I think it would be very wrong to assume that Anne means us to admire Agnes as uncritically as their seeming similarities might lead us to think.

Anne Brontë is a very subtle writer, worthy to be compared with Jane Austen. There is something of the same detachment from her characters: both are sympathetic to their characters, but not afraid to let their heroines' faults be seen, nor to smile at them when they get events out of proportion. Brontë does this very cleverly, because she never comments or judges directly as Jane Austen sometimes does, but only through things other characters say or do.
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