Listen free for 30 days

Agnes Grey

Narrated by: Emilia Fox
Length: 6 hrs and 27 mins
4 out of 5 stars (220 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Drawing heavily from personal experience, Anne Brontë wrote Agnes Grey in an effort to represent the many 19th Century women who worked as governesses and suffered daily abuse as a result of their position.

Having lost the family savings on risky investments, Richard Grey removes himself from family life and suffers a bout of depression. Feeling helpless and frustrated, his youngest daughter, Agnes, applies for a job as a governess to the children of a wealthy, upper-class, English family.

Ecstatic at the thought that she has finally gained control and freedom over her own life, Agnes arrives at the Bloomfield mansion armed with confidence and purpose. The cruelty with which the family treat her however, slowly but surely strips the heroine of all dignity and belief in humanity.

A tale of female bravery in the face of isolation and subjugation, Agnes Grey is a masterpiece claimed by Irish writer, George Moore, to be possessed of all the qualities and style of a Jane Austen title. Its simple prosaic style propels the narrative forward in a gentle yet rhythmic manner which continuously leaves the listener wanting to know more.

Anne Brontë, the somewhat lesser known sister, was in fact the first to finish and publish Agnes Grey under the pseudonym of Acton Bell. Charlotte and Emily followed shortly after with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

As Anne passed away from what is now known to be pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of just 29, she only published one further title; The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. As feminist in nature as Agnes Grey, Anne's brave voice resonates and permeates during one of the most prejudiced and patriarchal times of English history.

Narrator Biography

Emilia Fox is an English stage, film and TV actress, best known for playing the role of Dr Nikki Alexander on the BBC's crime drama Silent Witness. Having been involved in the programme since 2004, she is now its longest serving cast member.

Her other credits include Merlin, Pride and Prejudice and Rebecca, and her theatre background includes performances of The Cherry Orchard with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Emilia has also starred alongside Adrien Brody in Roman Polanski's The Pianist, beside Billie Piper and Dougray Scott in Things to Do Before You're 30 and with Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas in Keeping Mum.

She has voiced many audiobooks for Audible, including Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus and Victoria Hislop's The Island.

©2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    100
  • 4 Stars
    80
  • 3 Stars
    32
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    5

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    129
  • 4 Stars
    48
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    3

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    80
  • 4 Stars
    69
  • 3 Stars
    35
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Agnes Grey.

This is a delightful story, very well read. The long moral discourses
I found interesting as they reminded me of my upbringing!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Book

Where does Agnes Grey rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

So far this is the first audiobook we have listened to.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I found that all the characters were really interesting.

What about Emilia Fox’s performance did you like?

I felt that Emilia Fox was very well chosen to read this particualr book, her voice just seemed to work very well with the period and style.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

At times this book made me thoughtful, and at other times annoyed with what poor Agnes had to put up with. The descripitons of some characters and thier actions could be really amusing.

Any additional comments?

A good book to my mind is something you cannot put down, you just have to start reading or listening to it till the end. Not much could keep us sitting quietly for 80 mins, but this did.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Anne Brontë

The saddest thing about this book is the knowledge that Anne died so young and she never knew how well her novels were received and spent the short time after their publication defending them. I find it particularly hard to stomach that her own sister is the reason she isn’t as well known. She is the stand out for me I love this book but I adore “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” even more, this, I feel, is the book that should be the most famous even though I have read and love all the Brontë’s novels. It’s also sad to think that Anne didn’t fulfill any longing that she may have had to be a wife or mother. Emilia Fox is excellent I hope to hear her again her voice suits this particular genre and era perfectly.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A feel good story

I loved Emilia Fox's reading of Agnes Grey. I have no problem recommending this. It is such a feel good story. The voice characterisations are excellent.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unexpected deIight

Beautifully read in such a way that completely brought the characters to life. Anne Brontes novel is a joy of language, story line and construction. Something to savour.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Very average

Do you have any additional comments?

A predictable story about a virtuous girl's hard life as a governess and the eventual change in her fortunes. All very nice, but it lacks the atmosphere, complexity and unexpectedness of other books by the Bröntes. The narration is fine, although nothing special. Also, I don't know whether I'm the only one to have had this problem but, when I listened using headphones, there was an annoying background noise as if the audio had been re-recorded from a tape.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A sweet simple story

I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it. The story was simple, not anything extraordinary with no twists or turns. The thing I enjoyed the most was the actual narration. Emilia Fox did a superb job

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great narrator

Enjoyed this narrator's reading immensely. Soothing and clear voice throughout. Chapters on app correspond accurately to chapters in the book, which is not always the case on Audible. The story is engaging and entertaining, but not that exciting - hence not the full five stars for that. Nevertheless a fascinating portrait of life for a nineteenth century governess.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

What matters in love

Initially I was a little bored with this, somewhat slow to start and dwelling overly on the annoying brats that poor Agnes was governess to. However, the story of her own character and the blossoming delicate romance between her and Mr Weston was a delight and I really enjoyed the latter stages of the book. Some particularly well observed insights, wonderfully and poetically written, a little philosophical on the nature of what we really need in life, the mistaken desires and the things that matter in a relationship.


“He had not breathed a word of love, or dropped one hint of tenderness or affection, and yet I had been supremely happy. To be near him, to hear him talk as he did talk, and to feel that he thought me worthy to be so spoken to - capable of understanding and duly appreciating such discourse - was enough.”

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb book

What a delight! So beautifully written it transported me back in time. Emilia Fox’s performance was excellent.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kerry
  • Kerry
  • 22-05-10

Loved it

I loved Agnes Grey. Agnes is a young woman of incredible character, and her integrity, patience, prudence, forbearance, self-control, humility, forgiveness, tenderness, and compassion are to be admired. It is so important to read about people one would want to emulate and would aspire to be like, and Agnes Grey is one such person. The comparisons and contrasts between all of the book's characters was an insight into humankind, as well. And, the ending...

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Diana
  • Diana
  • 13-05-11

I love anything Bronte

Agnes Grey read by Emilia Fox is charming and engaging if not predictable (but who cares its a Bronte!). I thought the narrators voice was angelic and perfect for the meandering mind of the protagonist. I feel that I go back in time, that these audio books of stories from that century, make me feel like I am in my own time ship. The verses, the words used at that time, make English a beautiful language to me again. I love listening to the story but also enjoy the poetic verses that are throughout the book. IA lovely listen.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Joey
  • Joey
  • 30-07-10

Excellent listen

The Bronte sisters sure did know what they were about!!! I doubt I would have picked this book up at a bookstore and by not doing so would have missed a chance to a wonderful story. While somewhat predictable, it never the less compelles the listener to complete the story. Wonderfully written and read.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for M. Y. L.
  • M. Y. L.
  • 26-04-16

Tame but good

After listening to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, I found Agnes Grey tame by comparison. However, I enjoyed Anne Bronte's quiet and thoughtful story of a level-headed woman who makes her way in the world with poise and grace.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Darrell M.
  • Darrell M.
  • 27-04-15

Old recording of a classic story

In addition to Performance and Story, I wish there was an additional measure which these recordings could be graded: Quality.

Audio quality was good enough. Original "do overs" by the reader were barely noticeable, which is better than many audio books.

One edit I wish was made was removal of "this is the end is side x," obvious marks of older media technology.

There was a low frequency rumble throughout. I listened with ear buds on a cloudy day and kept pausing, thinking a storm was rolling in.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Carole T.
  • Carole T.
  • 17-06-12

The Unknown Bronte

Anne is often overlooked among the Bronte family, and this book shows why. It's hard to overlook the martyred tone. I read this for a book club and might not otherwise have finished it. If you can overlook the unpleasant heroine, there is some wonderful description in the writing.
I'd recommend this mostly for people wanting the entire Bronte experience. Anne is much better represented by "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall".

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Suzie
  • Suzie
  • 12-02-19

insight into life for women in early 19th century

I've been wanting to read the Brontë's works since the fabulous movie about them, To Walk Invisible. After reading about how overlooked Anne Brontë has been, I was especially interested to give Agnes Grey a chance. It certainly doesn't have the drama of the more famous Brontë novels, but it was an interesting read nonetheless. As a history nerd, I appreciated the insight it gave into what life was like both for governesses in the early(ish) 1800s as well as upper class women and children and even lower class people. I felt like it gave a more realistic look at daily life than most novels I've read. It does have some beautiful passages and really sweet lines, even if parts of it feel very Victorian in morality and plain in terms of the writing. The love story is sweet and I found Agnes's anxiety and shyness quite relatable. Overall, worth a read for classic lit fans and Emilia Fox had a very pleasant voice.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mama C
  • Mama C
  • 26-02-17

Satisfying

This is a typical 19th century story, where good people get good (in the end), and selfish people get what they deserve.
The narrator has a lovely voice, but it rose and fell depending upon who was speaking, making it difficult to hear at times.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mary Ellen Purkis
  • Mary Ellen Purkis
  • 04-03-15

Difficult times for women

This is the second time I have listened to this book. In many ways, it best describes the details of women becoming "matched" in the late 1800's. The book outlines well the efforts of Miss Rosalee Murray to ensnare someone of sufficient resources -- and then illustrates the terrible bargain she (and doubtless many others) has struck.

Excellent narration!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alcee Arobin
  • Alcee Arobin
  • 15-10-14

Lovely tale from the forgotten Brontë

If you could sum up Agnes Grey in three words, what would they be?

Lyrical, humorous, and preachy.

Who was your favorite character and why?

In fact I quite liked the would-be villain, Rosalie Murray. She wasn't a kind person, but the reader could also sympathize with the intractability of her position as a woman of that era. She wanted adventure and amusement, but in the end couldn't escape her fate as a cloistered country aristocrat.

What does Emilia Fox bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I loved the soft, reflective quality of her narration. She also managed to vocalize each of the characters uniquely without resorting to exaggerated voices.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Among others, when Agnes travels to Wellwood for her first appointment as a governess. She's excited to begin her new life, but when the house comes into view from her carriage window she wishes it were just a few miles further away. I experienced the same sentiment the first time I moved away from home at around Agnes' age.

Any additional comments?

I loved Emilia Fox's narration but the quality of the recording is a little lacking. I had to lower the volume for her performance of Rosalie Murray's voice because the sound was much more piercing.

Final thought: the plot is overly moralizing (I told a friend it's essentially proto-Christian fiction), the romance rather uninspired, and no doubt some readers will be put off by Agnes' absolute moral superiority. That said, the elegance and precision of the writing more than make up for any deficiencies of characterization or overbearing religious admonitions. Really a beautifully composed book.

1 person found this helpful