Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

27 Apr

Now that I’m done with Jane Austen, I thought I’d move on to some other favorite authors of mine- the Brontes, starting in alphabetical order with Anne. Anne Bronte is probably the least popular Bronte sister for some reason. She actually wrote two books (and Charlotte wrote four) but the only Bronte books anyone ever seems to know are Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Those are by far the most popular and have been adapted many, many times. Unfortunately given Anne’s relative obscurity, there are very few adaptations of her works. There are a couple TV versions of her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but only one of those is available on DVD and there are none at all of her first book, Agnes Grey. I think this is a real shame because I love both of Anne’s books and because of this, I would say she’s my favorite of the three sisters.

Agnes Grey tells of the titular character’s life as a governess. Her family loses their fortune in an accident and so Agnes decides to work as a governess rather than be a burden on her parents- even though they are against this idea. She first teaches extremely bratty young children (the son is a sociopath who tortures his younger sisters and small animals) and then older, more worldly children. All of her pupils are spoiled to the core, but she gets along well enough with her second family of employment.

Like Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey is about a governess, but the two books are very different from each other. Agnes Grey is much more realistic, lacking all the gothic and mysterious elements. Anne based the story and characters on her own experiences as a governess, and thus all the bratty kids are very well realized. Agnes does fall in love but it’s a more understated romance with a good man, but nothing like the tumultuous passion between Jane and Rochester. Anne Bronte’s books are definitely the most realistic out of all of the Brontes and this one most of all. The style is the closest to Jane Austen that any of them will get, so Jane Austen fans who are not fond of Charlotte and Emily’s work will probably respond more favorably to this one. It does have a moral and religious message to it but I didn’t find it heavy-handed.

My Rating: 8/10

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