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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

This Penguin Classic is performed by Louise Brealey, known for her roles in Sherlock, Clique and Death in Paradise.

When her family becomes impoverished after a disastrous financial speculation, Agnes Grey determines to find work as a governess in order to contribute to their meagre income and assert her independence. But Agnes' enthusiasm is swiftly extinguished as she struggles first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children and then with the painful disdain of the haughty Murray family; the only kindness she receives comes from Mr Weston, the sober young curate. Drawing on her own experience, Anne Brontë's first novel offers a compelling personal perspective on the desperate position of unmarried, educated women for whom becoming a governess was the only respectable career open in Victorian society.

©1988 Angeline Goreau (P)2004 Penguin Audio

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Classic in every sense

The story of Agnes Grey is one of endurance and reticence. Events take years, a hugely different world in which hope rests on the slightest things, and disappointment is more than likely. Agnes tells her own story. She is a rather severe character, who has little sympathy for the children she encounters in her lowly role of governess; she likes none of them, and never attempts to use humour or love. She relies on calmness, firmness, and quietness. I was surprised by this on hearing; I have read this book twice before, and never before thought of Agnes as so critical and difficult. She has much to contend with, poverty and rudeness especially. The child with the nest of birds that he intends to torture is, I think, a classic key moment in English fiction, and the writing could not be bettered. Agnes, like Anne, is definitely a victim of her circumstances, rescued by her religion and her close family. To hear this story read aloud was an ongoing treat. It is thoughtful and profound, and you really mind what happens to people you get to know in detail - very few of them, in a limited world. The depiction of the beach of a Yorkshire seaside town is amazing. A great book by an author who knew exactly what she was talking about, and whose own hopes were tragically disappointed. She lives on here. Well read - thank you.

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Wonderful political novel

Oh my! This gave me so much admiration and respect for Anne Bronte. In real life she worked for some horrific families as governess and here she portrays just how few opportunities and choices women from the middle classes had during her lifetime.

A superb albeit short novel and this penguin version has an interesting introduction at the end so no spoilers

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  • Jessica
  • 29-01-20

I've been waiting for a good performance

This is an excellent performance of Agnes Grey. On par with Thandie Newton's Jane Eyre

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  • Stephan E.
  • 23-04-20

Wonderful!

I loved this beautiful gem of a book. Anne Bronte was a modern writer who happened live in the 19th century. also beautifully read!