Agnes Grey Read-along – Background & initial thoughts

Agnes Grey Readalong

February is here! Which means it’s time for Agnes Grey to enter my life and take over. I have to admit that I’ve been looking forward to this for the past couple of months, and I’m so happy to be able to immerse myself in such a well loved classic. I’ve just done some very basic research into the author and the book itself, and I am now so excited to crack this spine!

If you are interested in joining us, don’t be shy – participate! It’s never too late. We haven’t even started this book yet. If you want to check out a schedule, you can find it on the signups post – but many of the people reading are on twitter, so check us out at #AggieGrey. Our next discussion post will be around on the 8th of February, which will cover chapters 1 – 6.

Agnes Grey is the first book that was published by Anne Bronte, who went by the pen name Acton Bell at the time. Agnes has been described as a bildungsroman and an autobiographical novel, both of which are genres much loved then and now. It has earned so many accolades over the years, and has a firm place in the literature canon, if often overshadowed by the works of the other Bronte sisters.

I was surprised to discover that the Bronte sisters published three novels, one apiece, in 1847: Jane Eyre (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily) and Agnes Grey (Anne Bronte). Of these I loved Jane Eyre, finding the story to be engaging and enthralling. Wuthering Heights was on a required reading list during my first year at university, and I hated it with a passion which until that moment has been reserved for the works of Austen. Since then I have matured and changed as a reader, enjoying Austen’s Persuasion and not writing off Victorians with such wholesale abandon.

Needless to say, I am trying to approach the reading of Agnes with an open mind, but without hindering my excitement. The edition I am reading is a much maligned cheapo Wordsworth Classics edition – which I usually enjoy because I can throw them in my handbag without worrying about trashing my copy – but I’ve also got an older hardback and a ebook edition.

In regards to plot, I am expecting something similar to Jane Eyre in style and content, and I have high hopes that I will enjoy the spin that Anne puts on a novel about governesses. As a teacher, I always find stories about the education of others to be interesting, and as I grew up in a country area, some of my friends had governesses in today’s day and age. For them, I know it was not as glamorous as it sounded to me when I was reading books about governesses.

In the past couple of years I have also become really interested in the effects of oppression on people, both the oppressed and the oppressors – so I think that there will be elements of this novel that will enlighten and excite me.

I’m really looking forward to reading everyone else’s initial thoughts on Agnes Grey – please share your opinions on twitter using the hashtag #AggieGrey. I’m planning on tweeting some of my own thoughts and favourite lines, and I invite you all who are reading to join in – it has always interested me to know what others are taking from the same material. Also, if you write a blog post or a discuss Agnes ANYWHERE, please link below in the comments section. 


I brainstormed a couple of questions for this beginning post, and thought I would share them so that if you want to write a blog post or post opinions, you can. No pressure, there is no obligation – just I know sometimes prompts get me into the right headspace.

What do you know about Anne Bronte or Agnes Grey?

Have you read Agnes Grey before? What did you think? (try to keep it somewhat spoiler free, besides the well known facts)

Where did you hear about Agnes Grey?

How are you approaching reading this book? Deep analytical reading or reading for pure pleasure? In a couple of pages at a time intervals over the whole month or in one sitting?

What elements of this novel are you most looking forward to?

What edition are you reading? (ebook, audiobook, penguin classics, ect.)

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2 comments

    1. Haha seems like you are having a very busy month!! If you can fit us in, we’d love to have you, but I’m sure there will be other readalongs we can do together. Enjoy your little women- it’s something I’ve always meant to read (as a kid I read the abridged version, I’m pretty sure)

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