Thursday, 20 October 2011

AGNES GRAY by Anne Bronte

Based on AGNES GRAY I am forced to conclude that poor Anne was the untalented Bronte.

I had high hopes initially, as AGNES begins very much in the vein of the quality Bronte novel: lone governess, new location, lots of likely looking young men. Excellent.

Anne herself worked as a governess, and god, it shows. This book might well be titled GOVERNESS TELLS ALL. Or HOW I HATED BEING A GOVERNESS. Or maybe, THESE VICTORIAN KIDS ARE ALL BRATS.

The first third of the book is spent with one family of badly behaved children, and constitutes Agnes (ie Anne) explaining how poor parenting creates a horrible home environment. She then leaves this house, and it is never referred to again, and has no bearing on the rest of the novel at all. In her next home, the children are also badly behaved, but somewhat less so. She makes the whole situation worse by seeming to have a point of policy whereby she never, for any reason, expresses her actual feelings to anyone. Thus, she spends all her time seething, and no time at all attempting to honestly resolve her difficulties. It's a textbook case of building your own prison, by means of your own wilful silence, and makes it hard to care what happens to Agnes.

She is introduced to the local rector, and after speaking to him three times (two of these about the weather) she falls madly in love with him. Eventually, but by then you are so bored you just don't care, they get together.

Here's him asking her to go to the shore with him, so he can propose. Hold on to your hats, ladies, this guy knows how to work it:
“I see by those light clouds in the west, there will be a brilliant sunset, and we shall be in time to witness its effect upon the sea, at the most moderate rate of progression.”
Nuff said.


  1. I'll be reading the English Classics once in a while. Have read and Austen and a Bronte (Emily). Haven't heard of this one before.

  2. She probably refrains from expressing her actual feelings to anyone out of concern that it would come across as unsolicited advice. We know how much everyone hates that.

    For books like this, I feel like your blog could be subtitled "Sarah reads it so you don't have to." For that public service, I'm grateful.

  3. Oh Nana, you must read JANE EYRE. You would love it! That's by Charlotte Bronte.

    He he he, Erol, re: unsolicited advice. This is definitely in the AVOID pile. I am running out of ideas for books at the moment, so any suggestions most appreciated . . .