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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Armageddon Outta Here
Derek Landy
Progress: 74/479 pages
V for Vendetta
David Lloyd, Alan Moore
Progress: 28/296 pages
Woken Furies
Richard K. Morgan
Progress: 315/565 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 454/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 166/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith
Progress: 164/448 pages

Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey - Anne Brontë

This is Anne's first novel and it's a lesser work than the subsequent Tenant of Wildfell Hall but it shows some similarities; it is most powerful when tackling social issues of autobiographical concern to the author; the protagonist is a bit self-righteous; it never suffers the dullness that afflicts the lesser parts of Jane Eyre; it never tilts over into the almost insane hysterical passion of Wuthering Heights.


It seems fairly obvious that Anne wanted to tackle the plight of poorly treated governesses and bolted a very conventional and largely uninspired romance on the end in order to make it a novel. This romance section in itself serves more to act as a warning about the potential fate of people who marry merely for money or social status than to provide any satisfying against-the-odds meeting of soul-mates; the outcome is dictated by convenient chance. I note that as with other Bronte novels, the protagonist wishes to be appreciated for her moral, educational and intellectual capacities and achievements. This was clearly what was valued by the Brontes and what they wanted to be esteemed for having.


I found the book never tedious, being short in length and brisk enough, unlike Jane Eyre which bogs down frequently, but the early parts, loaded with the protagonist's early experiences away from home before romance enters the picture are surprisingly the most memorable. It would seem governesses were frequently treated badly by both parents and pupils and, being isolated from their previous "support network" as well as usually young and inexperienced, they often suffered greatly. It is obvious that Anne is speaking from experience in these passages and they act as a precursor to the later and greater similarly autobiographically informed sections of Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which remains by far the stand-out Bronte novel I've read.