Anne Brontë’s classic novel, Agnes Grey, is a semi-autobiographical account of the young woman’s experiences working as a governess. The book is set in Victorian Bath and gives the reader a glimpse of Brontë’s far-reaching outlook on life and society. When Agnes sets out to work in the capacity of a governess at some wealthy households in Bath, she is oblivious to the trying times that lie ahead.
I don’t know why I had been hesitant to pick up this book. It is not at all disconcerting in its writing or the topics it explores. In fact, rather than being intimidated, I found myself getting increasingly drawn to the author’s storytelling.
Written in a highly personal and straightforward manner, the narrator’s voice lends a conversational tone to the storytelling. Agnes narrates incidents in her life in a heartfelt way and makes you feel like you’re listening to a friend talk rather than reading about a character’s journey.
While the book in itself explores the mannerisms, perspectives, and behaviours of the middle and upper-class folks, it is very telling in its portrayal of upbringing, morals, and dignity of labour.
There were so many times in the book that I’d be infuriated at the treatment accorded to Agnes by her employers. These parental figures either have little to no respect for her or don’t take her involvement seriously. There’s a lot of double standards, bratty children, and power play.
I loved the depiction of Agnes’ family. Her mother’s characterisation has to be my second favourite in the book! She is supportive, warm, and strong.
What also added to the book is how Agnes and Mr Weston’s courtship pans out. That was delightful to read.
On the whole, this has become one of my most liked classic novels. I’d highly recommend it to you, even if you are a beginner reader or if you’ve always been averse to picking up classics.