Agnes Grey is Anne Brontë's first novel - an autobiographical account of her views and experience as a governess. Although not as poignant and complicated as her second work - her magnum opus - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; still, Agnes Grey is way deeper than Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights (sorry #TeamCharlotte and #TeamEmily!) - though perhaps less poignant.
Agnes is the youngest daughter of a clergyman with humble means. The story of how Mrs. Grey, despite of coming from a rich family, deliberately sacrificing her privilege, to live in a small parsonage with a humble husband, is very inspiring. Indeed, a woman of high morality and strong character is always a good mother. When Mr. Grey's financial investment failed, instead of moaning their misfortune and accusing the father, all the Grey women rolled their sleeves, and each found something to earn money. Agnes became a governess for a rich family: The Bloomsfield. Thus, in her 19 years of age, inexperienced, with all her life socially shut off in a rural village, Agnes left home for the first time in her life, to attend to her first job.
What a family, the Bloomfields is! Their rude, harsh, and shallow characters; with such a bully pack of children, is more than enough to dispel any respectable governess, even the experienced one. But Agnes, shy and meek she seemed to be, heroically bore all assaults while keep doing her best to impart goodness to her pupils. It's so ridiculous how Mrs. Bloomfield expected the governess to educate her children WITHOUT giving her any authority. This account was actually derived from Anne's own experience as a governess. That people like this ever existed! (-_-') It's remarkable how Agnes endured all that until she was finally dismissed (not of her fault) by the Bloomfields. But the dismissal is really Godsend, since those people are hopelessly incurable!
Agnes' second job with the Murrays is much better - at least they treated her more humanly. Even Rosalie Murray treated Agnes quite good - at least, in her selfish way. Then the story gets far more interesting when Mr. Weston, the young new curate, appeared on the radar, and... well, you know what is going to happen next.
On the whole, this is another quiet bildungsroman story about strong women; a soothing read, not too much conflict, and a perfect book for young women. It teaches us how family education is the most important foundation to shape our children's character; and that that education should be started from very early age, when they are still malleable. It also criticizes how 19th century society treated woman as man's slave in marriage. For 19th century woman, Anne Brontë was way more forward than her peers. It's a good proof of a great mother will likely produce great offspring.
Rating: 4 to 5