This week, I discovered a wonderful book! I wasn't expecting it to be wonderful, but I checked it out of the library anyway. It was Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. I originally checked the book out because I felt sorry for it. Now, this may sound strange, but sometimes when I come across a book that looks neglected and like it hasn't been checked out for awhile, I'll check it out. I had read books by both of the other Bronte sisters: Jane Eyre (too brooding and dramatic for my taste) and Wuthering Heights (brooding and dramatic with the added edge of hysteria). But I'd never read anything by Anne Bronte. So, I checked out Agnes Grey.
Agnes Grey is the largely autobiographical story of a young woman who, upon the sudden poverty of her father, agrees to go as a governess to make money for her family. She first works for a dreadful family with unruly and hateful children. After a year of futilely trying to teach such awful children, she is fired by the cold, domineering mother. Next Agnes goes to a family of four children who, while shallow and cosseted, are much easier to work with. After the two boys go to school, she becomes friends with the two girls: the pretty and flighty Rosalie and her tomboy-ish sister, Matilda. While working in this position, she falls in love with the kind and worthy curate. But, she must be separated from him when she returns home after a family tragedy. The book is quite short; only 198 pages.
I loved this book so much because it was like a breath of fresh air after the other two Bronte sisters' novels. Agnes is a basically happy character with a functional family. The book has a nice happy ending and the heroes/heroines basically triumph at the end of the book. I enjoy books like this where the problem is solving something, instead of the trouble being the hero living a troubled and tortured life. I think I sense another post about happy endings...
Before I started the book, I read reviews on Good Reads and most of the reviews rated the book as average to strongly disliked. The reviews complained that the Agnes was too goody-goody and a 2 dimensional character. I disagreed after reading the book. Agnes is a very Victorian character with strong morals and a definite sense of right and wrong. She occasionally gives lectures about morality to her charges, but it is nothing spectacular for the time period. Agnes has inner turmoil and debates with herself about what she should do in certain scenarios. So I would say she is not at all 2-dimensional, but rather very typical of her time period. I highly recommend this book to anybody who likes classics and hasn't bothered to read anything by Anne Bronte.