Thursday, November 11, 2010
Published by Wordsworth Classics
Source: bought this one
When Agnes Grey's father loses the family savings in a disastrous investment, 18-year-old Agnes feels it is time for her to learn to take care of herself and earn her own way. Although sad to leave her family, Anne heads off to Wellwood Mansion full of high hopes. Unfortunately, the Bloomsfield family quickly makes Agnes realize how inferior they consider her to be; even the children show her very little respect. Things are little better for Agnes when she becomes the governess for the Murrays of Horton Lodge, although here Agnes will start to find a way to make her own life.
I've read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (love it) and Emily's Wuthering Heights (I've read it three times, trying to find out what makes it so popular and still don't get it). I had great hopes for Anne; my friend Sarah, of Sarah Says, declares that Anne is her favorite of the Bronte sisters. She's going to have to do much more than she did with Agnes Grey before she can unseat Charlotte in my opinion.
This book is a largely autobiographical account of Anne's own time as a governess. Which is not particularly an exciting or fast-paced life, of course. But the first half of this book really felt like it was crawling along for me. Anne was clearly an introspective woman, as well as a deeply religious person, and long passages of the book were nothing more than Agnes' reflections. I began to long for Wuthering Heights' Catherine Earnshaw.
Anne did not think much of the British upper class, if this book is a true reflection of her own opinion. The fathers in both families that Agnes served were absent, the mothers delusional about the merits of their children, and the children spoiled and lazy. Agnes was given charge of the children but no authority at all to discipline them. Agnes Grey picked up for me when the Murray children grew older. Agnes began to venture out into the community and Bronte's commentary was able to become more far reaching.
I'll keep this one and perhaps give it another read one day. In the meantime, I'll pick up Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and see if I enjoy it as much as Sarah did.