Lena’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Agnes Grey is about a young lady who takes a post as governess to help her financially struggling family. But her occupation turns out to be far from the idyllic ideal Agnes had imagined: the children are unruly and the parents are not allowing her to discipline their children, but also don’t do it themselves. Agnes struggles as she is confronted with a lack of morals in these higher classes, that is so very foreign to her own nature.
Normally, I wouldn’t review classics because I feel inadequate. But I just had to with this one! This was such a pleasure to read. Not only do I love Anne Brontë’s writing, I could also relate very well to Agnes Grey as a character, as I am starting out in the teaching profession myself. I knew the helplessness she felt at being confronted with wholly uncooperative children and saw the same lack of experience and authority in her as in me.
Her reflections on her pupils and the families she lived with were interesting to read and at the same time revealed a lot about Agnes as a character. I liked that she had flaws that weren’t too obvious, to the reader as well as to herself. Also, I always enjoy the theological reflections that are still present in 19th century literature. Novels nowadays are very shy of them, but I find it fascinating to think how we still haven’t graduated from the same discourses. There is a romance element in this novel but it is not the focus.
The story was inspired by Anne’s own experiences as a governess. I have also read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by her and I cannot decide which of her two novels I like better. As a heroine, I definitely prefer Agnes Grey because I just saw so much of me in her. I wish Anne Brontë had written more novels because out of the three Brontë sisters, I have enjoyed her novels and style the most so far.
This novel is quite short, and I recommend it to anyone in the teaching profession, especially if you are starting out and don’t know what’s what. Also, Anne Brontë just writes good books, if you ask me.
Have you read anything by Anne Brontë, and if so, how did you like it? I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it. I feel like I need to talk some more about this book >__<