In her daring first novel, the youngest Bronte sister drew upon her own experiences to tell the unvarnished truth about life as a governess. Like Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte was a young middle-class Victorian lady whose family fortunes had faltered. Like so many other unmarried women of the nineteenth century, Bronte 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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