Customer Reviews


40 Reviews
5 star:
 (19)
4 star:
 (12)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tale of a governess
Mrs Brontė 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 Brontė must have drawn from her own experiences in 1839 when she worked for the...
Published on 13 Aug. 2005 by HORAK

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars The Other Bronte...
I had never before read a novel by Anne Bronte. I had always favored her sister Charlotte, being a fan of Jane Eyre since high school. A play about the Bronte sisters’ lives was showing at a local theatre, and this inspired me to become acquainted with the Bronte that was so often overlooked. Incidentally, I became too ill to attend the play in the end, but this bit...
Published 16 days ago by Valerie L. Pate


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tale of a governess, 13 Aug. 2005
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Mrs Brontė 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 Brontė 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 Brontė 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insights into the life of a governess, 5 Jun. 2010
By 
Helen S - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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.

Another of the book's themes is the importance of morality, virtuousness and goodness, qualities in which the Bloomfield and Murray families seem to be sadly lacking, leading Agnes to feel isolated and miserable. However, I think many readers will find Agnes too self-righteous and superior, so if you prefer your heroines to be flawed and imperfect this probably isn't the book for you! Reading about the day to day life of a governess is not particularly exciting or dramatic, but I still found the book enjoyable and interesting - and at under 200 pages a very quick read compared to many of the other Bronte books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Governess gets her man, 11 Mar. 2009
By 
Alun Williams "mathematician manqué" (Peterborough,England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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 Brontė 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. Brontė 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. As in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, the counter-point to a sometimes dull heroine is an engaging other woman: although Agnes disapproves of her strongly, and is sometimes persecuted by her, Rosalie Murray (the eldest of her charges), is so vivacious and mischievous that, even if we disapprove of her actions, it is very hard not to like her.

Although this book was written 160 years ago I found its ideas still relevant. One of the major themes of the book is the great difficulty a teacher is in when he or she is given responsibility for, but not authority over, children in his or her care. I think many teachers or social workers would probably identify with that predicament. Another passage that I found very thought-provoking was one which discusses how people who are "bad influences" really do influence us even when we are on guard against them.

Overall, though I could perhaps only give this book three stars for my enjoyment of the tale, it is well worth four stars for the quality of the writing and the ideas expressed in the book, and I will certainly read the book again and expect to find more than I got on the first reading.

When buying classics, I usually go for one of the editions with a critical introduction and notes. In this case although one or two of the notes high-lighting links with Anne's own life were interesting, I am not sure they were really worth the extra cost.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Readable Masterpiece, 22 May 2012
By 
H. A. Weedon "Mouser" (North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although I read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall many years ago, I had never read Agnes Grey until recently, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Anne Bronte had a superb command of English and the way she writes it is a joy to read. She certainly knew how to tell a story and Agnes Grey gains because it's so well focussed. Avoiding tedious embellishments, Anne keeps to the point with the result that the reader is readily able to gain a very good impression of how life was like for a good many goveresses in early Victorian England. Anne writes so well the reader can feel that he/she is there with Agnes Grey as she struggles to maintain order and teach her unruly pupils.

Besides all this, the reader is given a very good impression of how marriages were arranged among the upper classes in the mid Nineteenth Century. Anne Bronte brings it out how both her heroine, Agnes Grey, and Agnes' mother married for love, which she contrasts with the unhappiness of Rosalie Murray in her arranged marriage, which Rosalie choose to enter into rather than wed the man who truly loved her. Rosalie and her sister Matilda were Agnes Grey's pupils in her second stint as governess, which was rather better than the difficult time she had during her first appointment with the Bloomfield family. Agnes eventually marries a young clergyman, who has just been appointed as rector of a £300.00 per year living. One gets the impression that this is how Anne would have liked things to turn out for herself. Sadly she died of TB aged only 29. One can only wonder at the great works she might have written had she lived into old age. We can only be sad that someone with such a beautiful mind and strength of character should have died so young. Thank you Anne for writing such a revealing, succinct and very readable masterpiece.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars moving, 26 April 2001
By A Customer
This book is perfect for all those people who have loved unrequited or been through terrible times in their life. With the perfect ending this story touched and changed me. Anne, often considered the lesser of the Bronte sisters, shines with talent and individuality. A beautiful story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise!, 18 April 2013
Neither this book or its author enjoy much of a reputation, so I was pleasantly surprised both by the quality of the writing and by the strength of the tale.

The story is, of course, autobiographical. The reader gets a real feeling of the degradation suffered by poor, but gentile, governesses and of the uselessness of their female wards. I don't know how Agnes could stand it for very long, but I suppose poverty encourages patience.Agnes, as a daughter of a vicar, is altogether too prim and proper, which only widens the gap with her charges.

The underlying love story bubbles along very convincingly, even if the reader suspects it will end well.

On the evidence of this book, I can't wait to read Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In my view, Anne is a much better writer than Emily, whose only novel, Wuthering Heights, is disturbing, degenerate and over-rated.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 19 Jan. 2012
By 
Ruth Jamie Babington "trainspotter" (Barcelona, Catalunya) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have read criticism about Anne Brönte. About how she wasn't as great as her sisters. Agnes Grey was a thoroughly enjoyable book. It was witty, charming, the characters were described well. I have no criticism of the book. The only thing that srikes me about the characters in the Brönte books is how strongwilled they were and I would like to believe that there were women like that at time. I suppose in many ways the Brönte sisters are evidence of it. Don't doubt in buying the book - if you don't like it so what - it costs 3 the same as a mocha cappucino espresso thingy!! ;P
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful., 22 Jan. 2014
The best way to describe this book is simply beautiful; it's so real and unpretentious in its portrayal of the life Victorian governesses often endured...one of frustration, degradation and loneliness. It's very different to the content of her sisters' works but don't be put off by that; Agnes Grey definitely matches the incredible vividity of descriptive language found in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights!!! If you're a fan of Victorian literature you'll love, love, love Agnes Grey!!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars The Other Bronte..., 11 May 2015
By 
Valerie L. Pate (East Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I had never before read a novel by Anne Bronte. I had always favored her sister Charlotte, being a fan of Jane Eyre since high school. A play about the Bronte sisters’ lives was showing at a local theatre, and this inspired me to become acquainted with the Bronte that was so often overlooked. Incidentally, I became too ill to attend the play in the end, but this bit of incentive to choose a classic from the shelf made for a nice change of pace.
The book wasn’t taxing. I downloaded it for free onto my Kindle and found the built-in dictionary most helpful on several occasions. While the novel did provide an insider’s view into the frequently solitary and challenging life of a governess working in Victorian times, for me it lacked that compelling force which powered the likes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The reader feels for Agnes, but the plot-line is entirely predictable and never offers an opportunity for feelings of true concern or surprise. I liked knowing that some of the story’s inspiration was drawn from Anne’s own experience as a governess. The novel never lacked in realism, only intrigue.
I would be very willing to try Anne’s other novel, The Tenant of Wildefell Hall. I believe she possessed the ability to write just as well as her sisters, but with such steep competition crowded under one roof, it’s commendable that all three of them pursued publication and were met with such high praise.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars "There's no Anne Bronte!" - Book clerk's exact quote at a book shop, 11 Nov. 2014
The quote I used for my review's title was, I'm not kidding, the exact words a book clerk told me when I asked her for copies of Anne Brönte's two novels.

For though she knew about Emily and Charlotte Brönte, the Anne of the family was unknown to her. And it wasn't until then she saw the copies I requested that she came to know about this other Brönte. Whose sisters' popularity and work eclipsed their youngest sister's. A woman whose storylines are more realistic than in Wuthering Heights where the paranormal collided with our lives and with Jane Eyre's romantic castle.

In Agnes Grey, Anne Brönte displays to us her abilities to portray the life of a governess in an extremely realistic manner. Her work, the type of pupils she lived with (charming or tempestuous), their parents discipline, and how Religion integrates itself with their everyday.
As such, Anne's novel is a detailed dive-in into the life of a woman nobles could either treat like a member of the family or as a servant some could treat with contempt. Either by ignoring, or not talking. A shameful behaviour.

Therefore, to all those who may not know who is Anne Brönte or didn't know that there was a third sister in the Brönte family, I suggest you all to read this wonderful jewel of literature.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Agnes Grey (Classics)
Agnes Grey (Classics) by Anne Brontė (Paperback - 25 Aug. 1988)
£6.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews