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First, the reader: Virginia Leishman delivers an excellent performance. Her crisp English voice and her clear delivery make the listening a pleasure to the ear.
Second, the novel: Though a romance in the main, Anne Bronte gives to the patient and attentive listener an idea of English society and customs near the halfway mark of the nineteenth century.
The lesser known sister of Charlotte and Emily Bronte shows a remarkable talent in both this and in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Her powers of observation and her transference of this observation into the story of Agnes Grey and the characters who surround her compare with the very best of Jane Austen. The portrait of the period and the interactions of the characters give reality to the story. One is made very aware that Anne herself was well aware of the society in which she lived, and despite the impression that the Bronte sisters were sheltered reclusives, Agnes Grey is a deep interrogation of the treatment of women who were in employment and the attitudes of the employers. As with Austen, one is keenly aware of social divides and the importance of marriage. A wonderful read.
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