Book summary: Agnes Grey

1847 BY ANNE BRONTË

In her daring first novel, the youngest Brontë sister drew upon her own experiences to tell the unvarnished truth about life as a governess. Like Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë was a young middle-class Victorian lady whose family fortunes had faltered. Like so many other unmarried women of the nineteenth century, Brontë accepted the only "respectable" employment available--and entered a world of hardship, humiliation, and loneliness.

Written with a realism that shocked critics, this biting social commentary offers a sympathetic portrait of Agnes and a moving indictment of her brutish and haughty employers. Separated from her family and friends by many miles, paid little more than subsistence wages, Agnes stands alone--both in society at large and in a household where she is neither family member nor servant. Agnes Grey remains a landmark in the literature of social history. In addition to its challenge to the era's chauvinism and materialism, it features a first-person narrative that offers a rare opportunity to hear the voice of a Victorian working woman.

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