Anne Bronte drew on her own life and work experience as a governess to write this story. She focuses on the detail of life in a manor house set in the moors of England. Anne the heroine is young and idealistic when she starts work as a teacher. And even though she increases her experience, she keeps her sweetness and strength. Patience and virtue are rewarded in the story. This story also shows a quiet but sharp critique and satire of the class life of the times. Bronte's style has been described as gothic but realistic rather than romantic, and similar to Jane Austen.
I read that when Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey were first published in 1847, it was in three volumes. Triple deckers were the favoured form of book by publishers in those days, because they were more profitable. Circulating libraries liked them too because borrowers had to take out three subscriptions in order to take out the whole book at one time. A triple decker cost £1 11s 6d in old money, £1.57 in decimal currency, but this unaffordable by nearly everyone. This link says that the original plan was for each of the Brontė sisters to provide a story (possibly The Professor), but it did not work out that way. When the book came out, Wuthering Heights took up two volumes and Agnes Grey the third volume. That is quite interesting, because as the link says, Wuthering Heights is a book of two halves. It could have been that originally Emily Brontė intended to stop Wuthering Heights after the older Catherine's death, but was persuaded to change her mind, or perhaps Charlotte did not want to publish The Professor in the form it was in then. A big problem with the three volume format was that it was long, which meant that often, books were padded out with sub-plots and filler material, and could sag in the middle. Appending Agnes Grey to the other two volumes meant that Wuthering Heights could be its natural length. In addition, if you found Wuthering Heights rather bleak and unwholesome, Agnes Grey might suit you better.
As I get further into this book, I enjoy it more and more. Agnes Grey has to put up with people who are incidentally cruel rather than purposefully cruel, which is the most common sort of cruelty in life and therefore the most likely to happen often enough to cause scars. There is sadness and quiet anger over the cruel stupidity of the people around her, and yet she is really unable to put them in her place. I want to reach out to her through the page, sort of, and become her friend... She is one of those characters I wish I could know in real life, not because they're terribly fascinating, but because they are terribly human and good.
I think Agnes Grey is a wonderful story, and being an old romantic, I love happy endings. It's a real pity that Anne Bronte's talent as a writer has been obscured over time by her sisters Charlotte and Emily. I really don't like some of Charlotte's work, frankly because it lapses into melodrama at times. But anyway, I really enjoyed Agnes. It's a beautiful little book, and I was delighted to find it a book store recently. I've always admired Anne's simple and yet intense syle of writing. It reminds me of Jane Austen's style of writing, which of course I love. I think that one of the key themes in Agnes is that no matter what your status, everyone has a right to love and be loved...and this is universally acknowledged (as Jane Austen would put it perhaps!) I really reccommend this book. If you haven't read it already, do it now!
Poor Anne Bronte is always overshadowed by her sisters but she was truly great in her own right. Agnes Grey is a beautiful, touching story. One must read between the lines to truly appreaciate it, to sense Agnes's longing that tortured her so and tortured her all the more because she could speak of it to no one. The book is also an outcry on the pitiful, servile position of the governess in the 19th century. Relevant today? Oh yes. How many of us love and suffer in silence, how many of us, even in today's world as modern women find ourselves maltreated in the workplace and unable at times to do anything about it? That Agnes' story has a happy ending is perhaps conventional, yet, it makes me wish Anne's own short life had ended as well. And also. Who knows what secret pain Anne carried? It must have been there or else she would not have been able to write so moving a book as Agnes Grey.
I have read book by all three Bronte sisters, and prehaps Agnes Grey is not as passionate or complex as Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre for example; however, it is my favourite. It's simplictic and honest nature conveys the true life of a single middle classed woman in her time. Agnes is intelligent and modest. I find it rare to find such a strightforward, candid potryal of real life, as Anne has done in such a beautiful manner. It was an excllent read and I reccomend it to everyone. As a high shcool student, still early on my path of discovering great novels, it was fairly easy to read compared to Wuthering Heights, so I reccomend you start with Anne's books then move on to Charlotte and finish with Emily. They are all fantastic. Happy reading :)
this book is worth the read! it might be more conservative than you would expect from her sisters, but she still carries on the bronte legacy!