Of the 3 Bronte sisters, I think Anne Bronte is the least well known, and her writing did not engage me as much on an emotional level. This could partly be due to the fact that the book was written in a lighter tone as the main protagonist, Agnes, was of an optimistic, patient temparament. The romance started about midway, and there wasn't much of it, except for hints, and hopes, and as the gentleman was not given to flashy displays of affection or declarations of love, again there wasn't much to hold interest.
Those who have taught students from the upper classes who are spoilt beyond hope will empathise with Agnes and realise the problem is as old as time. It amused me that students who's parents' only find fault with the teacher rather than their dear child (who has so much potential), and who forbid any sort of disciplining tactics, were to found in the upper classes of British society just as they are in the similar classes of Saudi society. I felt Agnes' pain I really did. She was so patient, her circumstances dreary, I derived no pleasure from reading about her situation, and at the end when there was a happy ending, it didn't capture my heart. I've ready many books from a similar period but this book did not inspire me like the others.
It could have easily been an non-fictional autobigraphical account of a poor vicar's good Christian daughter, who worked as a governess for a time. It has been said it is to a certain exten auto-biographical, excluding the happy ending and some other details. Most biographies are dramatised to a certain extent to make them more interesting and certain creative license is employed, and what excuse can you possibly have not to use it when you are writing fiction-I really cannot understand.
I suggest that readers skip this book, instead, I'd recommend the darker and much more passionate Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; it is a coming of age novel, a gothic fiction novel and romance all in one. However, if you have the stomach for a harrowing emotional novel I suggest you to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
Finally, I'd like to leave the reader with a few quotes from Agnes Grey that I actually liked:
"...we have some thoughts that all the angels in heaven are welcome to behold, but not our brother-men--not even the best and kindest amongst them."
"The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than anyone can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking."
and my favourite:
"Alas! How far the promise of anticipation exceeds the pleasure of possesion!"