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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 February 2017
I've just reread this for the first time; it's some 50 years since I first read it and thought it incredibly dull. I seem to remember it being a companion text in a study course and I wasn't reading through choice.

So I approached it with some reservation, but to my surprise, I really enjoyed both the story and the style. I'd remembered very little; it's partly based on Anne Bronte's experiences as a governess and her background. The narrative is apparently simple, but Bronte's really picks up on the nuances of class, behaviours and dialogue. She explores the isolation and impoverished status of those women almost forced, by default, to become a governess.

At the time of review, Audible is offering a narrated version free. Emilie Fox is the voice and delivers brilliant audio.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 4 October 2015
First published in 1847, Anne Bronte's debut novel tells the story of a young woman, the daughter of a clergyman, who takes on the role of governess in order to help support her family after her father has lost his money through an unsuccessful investment. Her first post is with Mr and Mrs Bloomfield, whose children are so utterly spoiled and badly behaved (one of the children enjoys torturing small animals, aided and abetted by his insensitive father) that poor Agnes is driven to somewhat desperate measures to control them, her situation being made all the more difficult by Mrs Bloomfield who constantly undermines Agnes's authority as governess. After leaving the Bloomfields, Agnes takes up a post with the Murray family and although the Murray children are older than the Bloomfield children and are less unruly, Agnes still has her work cut out coping with her pupils' challenging behaviour - for instance the elder sister, Rosalie, is a very beautiful, but vain and manipulative flirt, and the younger sister, Matilda, is a horse-obsessed tomboy who swears like a stable-lad. When Agnes becomes acquainted with Mr Weston, a local clergyman, and their acquaintance slowly grows into a deepening friendship, Rosalie, out to cause mischief decides to make Mr Weston one of her many conquests. But will she succeed? And how will Agnes react to Rosalie's attempts to make Mr Weston fall in love with her?

Based on Anne Bronte's own experiences of working as a governess, the author deftly depicts the difficult position of her heroine, who is neither of the servant class nor of quite the same social standing as her employers, and she carefully illustrates how it is necessary for the governess to tread with caution when she is living in someone else's home and is often wholly dependent on the salary that is paid to her by her employers. Anne Bronte also portrays the loneliness and lack of affection her young heroine experiences when, from necessity, she is forced to live away from her family and of how unkind and inconsiderate her employers and charges can be towards those less fortunate than themselves. I first read this when I was in my early teens (which was rather a long time ago) and enjoyed it very much, although not quite as much as the author's second novel: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. This time around, I opted for the Kindle Whispersync combination which meant that I could download both the Kindle version and the Audible audio version (narrated by Emilia Fox) for less than the price of a new Penguin Classic paperback and was able to switch between reading on my Kindle and listening on my iPhone when commuting. Recommended.

4 Stars.
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on 18 March 2017
This is a curious story for its brutal honesty in the time it was written. The descriptions of unpleasant situations for a governess, and the lack of satisfactory arcs in the narrative for those unpleasant children seems more real life than fiction - for me personally I was let down by the pious nature of Agnes who was a little too judgey for my liking and by the simplicity of her romantic devotion. But despite these faults this is Bronte calibre writing and therefore has more merit than most.
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on 25 September 2017
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but I was very disappointed that this book is bound in a very thin, flimsy. bendy cover and has thin paper pages. It looks and feels like a workbook that you might get in school. It just doesn't feel like a real book and has put me off reading the novel, despite being a huge Bronte sisters fan. I will have to buy a different version of this book.
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on 5 March 2017
I really enjoyed this book. Still think it so sad that Anne gets so often forgotten amidst the accolade for her two sisters. All quite modern women in some respects who have something to say to us today.
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on 30 March 2017
A little dull as far as the story went. Rather ordinary really. Little of the tension or excitement that Charlotte and Emily put in theirs (though I don't like Emily's work. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is much better.
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on 22 August 2017
Enjoyable study into English county life in the mid - nineteenth century. Easy reading with no drama. Very involving. Provides an interesting insight into Anne Bronte's theology, presumably learnt from her father.
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on 5 March 2017
This is the third Bronte book I 've read and enjoyed the minute
details of a governess` life.
Again I've found Anne`s observations of human behaviour and character a surprising treat.
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on 28 March 2017
A rather typical Victorian morality tale, albeit giving considerable attention to female selfhood and independence. We can't all be Jane Eyres, but there is nevertheless a lack of intensity to the writing, which renders it little more than a pleasant read. It was actually rather better as a radio dramatisation (R4).
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on 3 August 2017
The Bronte books are all good, but this is a little more pedestrian than the Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
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