Few things excite me as much as a “new” story by a classic author. I just love it when I discover a work that I never knew existed. Today I conclude my short series on excellent, albeit lesser known, works by some of the long-loved classic authors.
Most people have at least heard of the Bronte sisters, even if they haven’t actually read any of their works. Of the three talented sisters, Charlotte and Emily are by far the best known. Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite novel, which I read at least once or twice per year. Conversely, Emily Bronte’s best known work, Wuthering Heights, is one of my least favorite novels (largely because there are no redeeming features to any of the main characters, so I find it impossible to hold any sympathy with them). Anne Bronte, sadly, gets the short end of the stick in public memory, which is quite a shame. She contributed two very excellent books of her own: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey. It is Agnes Grey which I love the most of the two.
Agnes Grey is a short, charming novel about a minister’s daughter who determines to help her family through hard times by taking employment as a governess. Having never traveled from home before, it’s a brave decision, and at first her family is reluctant to agree to it. Eventually, however, they come around, and she accepts her first governess position at the home of a family with three young children.
Now, what are you thinking right at this moment about the plot of this novel?
Hmmm. So you really think you’ve got this one figured out? Perhaps, perhaps not! Actually, the correct answer is none of the above! I won’t ruin the plot for you; I will merely say that for a short novel, it is full of little surprises, not the least of which is the accurate depiction of human nature and the understanding of how women really think. It’s a marvelous little book with solid Christian morals that avoids being saccharine or ridiculous, and it even manages to have a completely non-nauseating romance in it. There are characters who never find redemption, something which many Christian authors seem afraid to allow.
With so many positive things one can say about it, Agnes Grey would make an excellent choice for a book club, a school book report (probably best for high school, although a good reader of middle school age might enjoy it), or even for a Christian women’s study group. Although it was first published in 1847, Agnes Grey still has a lot to offer to readers today.