A Thankless Job (The Brontë Sisters Week)
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë is about a governess who has to deal with two sets of bratty kids and arrogant parents in the nineteenth century, namely the Bloomfields and the Murrays. Her job as governess is a thankless one, but the only one poor Agnes can get. The kids are unruly and spoiled; the parents are difficult; and everyone is demanding. Even Mary Poppins may have been exasperated with these uppity characters. As governess, she doesn't exactly have a great social life either since she’s stuck way out in the boonies. Eventually, one interesting man finally enters her life, but it’s not all smooth sailing. I really liked this story. I was saddened at the harsh oppressive world of a governess in the Victorian Age, and more so when I learned that this book is based on Anne’s own experiences. Unlike the heroine Agnes, however, Anne’s life didn't have a happy ending. Like four of her siblings before her, Anne Brontë contracted tuberculosis and died at the early age of twenty-nine, just after publication of her second novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. This book was particularly controversial as it is the story of an abused woman who eventually flees with her son. It had a taboo feminist ring to it. But even then, audiences were drawn to the notorious theme and it flew off the shelves. Both Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell have been in publication for over 150 years now, so even though Anne Brontë is the least known of the three literary Brontë sisters she didn't do so bad for herself after all.
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