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I think this is the MOST unappreciated of the Bronte sisters' works. Although it starts out slowly, the listen is worthwhile for the prose, novel structure and commentary on 19th century women's roles, especially the "governess" - who appears as only a shadow in most 19th centry lit.
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Did you notice in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, during a none too polite discussion (shall we say snide and belittling discussion) of governesses by Miss Ingraham and her friends in front of the governess Jane Eyre, there was a mention of a former governess, Miss Grey? I think this is subtle reference to her sister Anne's book and her actual work. I tend to view the Bronte sisters as a single entity, a literary corporation with each work a different facet of one being. While I have seen some slighting remarks concerning Anne Bronte, I think that if she had lived, she could have easily been the greatest writer of the three sisters. At 26, she had already written The Tenant at Wildfell Hall, Agnes Grey and some very respectable poetry. These are remarkable achievements for one so young. She has nothing for which to blush. Her detractors do.
Have you ever wished to come back to visit these families for whom Miss Grey worked a ten year later? Can you imagine in what dreadful state they would have fallen? Miss Grey with her firm principles and hard work would have risen ever higher while her betters would have sunk ever deeper toward disaster. With some flights of wild imagination and cameos by the supernatural, the Brontes wrote what could be termed docu-dramas. They stuck rather close to the truth. Indeed, from Charlotte Bronte's letters and other papers as well as Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte, all the Bronte books can be viewed for the most part as honest reporting rather than fictional fancy. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Oh, before I quit, of course, Agnes Grey rides off into the sunset with her man into happy ever after. It was a struggle to get to happy ever after but she did get there.
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