Agnes Grey

Most book lovers have heard of the Bronte sisters. And it’s pretty hard to be a romance loving biblophile without reading at least Jane Eyre OR Wuthering Heights…if not both. Charlotte and Emily are famous names in reading culture. Their tropes are everywhere, from the dark and brooding Heathcliffe-like teen boys in YA EVERYTHING, to the plain Janes of this world who go unnoticed but have so much to offer.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that there was a third Bronte sister, Anne. I’ll admit, she’s missing from my shelf too, as I look up at my two beautiful Barnes and Noble Leatherbound copies of the two books above.

But this weekend, I sat down with Agnes Grey, and I fell just as much in love with Anne Bronte as I did with the more recognizable sisters, and I wonder why she is not just as famous.

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At it’s base, Agnes Grey the basic 1800s story of a young girl from a family on the outskirts of society, who decides to become a governess, and falls in love with one of the men she meets along the way. Pretty typical baseline for that period.

However, there are some things I want to point out that interested in the characters and the story:

1. Mrs. Grey could have been rich. She came from a wealthy family, but fell in love with a poor man, and even though her father disowned her, she married him anyway.

2. Agnes was the youngest child, and doted on. When her family needed money, she decided she was going to become a governess to help earn it, even though her mother and sister told her they would handle the situation and she should stay home and be idle. She was determined to help.

3. I’m not sure if they had a diagnosis for “sociopath” in the 1800s, but the first children certainly showed signs of it. The older boy, Tom, liked to trap sparrows and pull their heads and wings off for sport, because “he was not a bird and so he couldn’t feel what they felt”. His father even encouraged this behavior. His sister was much the same way. It was very alarming. I was very glad that the book was not staged around that house for long.

4. I loved Mr. Weston. He was just so sweet and friendly, really quite adorable in how he just wanted to spend time talking with her, without being a bumbling fool like some guys can be in these novels.

 

I could go on, but it’s just a sweet, simple novel. Nothing overly complicated or twisted or dark. I was expecting something a little more gothic, because of her sisters’ writing styles, but this is really nothing like that. The romance is almost set up more like a Jane Austen novel, but with much less drama. It made for a very nice Sunday afternoon.

 

Fulfills Boxall  #88

 

 

Mauprat

Why are so many of our famous love stories such toxic ones? I guess we all just love drama. “Ordinary loves” are boring.

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Mauprat is one of those super dramatic love stories. If you want to call it a love story. It fits into that brooding, toxic, anti-hero theme similar to Wuthering Heights.

The story begins with basically a “pack” of psychopathic male family members who capture a young woman with sinister intentions. Their nephew Bernard saves Edmee on the condition that she promise to marry him, which she recants as soon as she is safe at home. Because, she says, who wants to marry a wild man?

He has fallen instantly in love with her, as men do, so he agrees to become educated. She keeps in on the hook for years, even though she is engaged to someone else. Sometimes she claims to be in love with Bernard, sometimes this other guy, sometimes she says she will never marry at all. The whole thing is ridiculous. Bernard even goes to fight in the American Revolution for awhile, but still comes back under the pretense that Edmee loves him.

I won’t tell you what happens in the second half of the book, but the drama only increases, and just…UGH! Enough already! Still, I had to read the whole thing, to find out what happens.

Of course I did.

I’m really not surprised, after reading Elizabeth Berg’s historical fiction bio, that this is George Sand’s version of a love story. Sand’s romantic life was such a roller coaster, so perhaps this sort of up and down all over the place DOES seem romantic.

The mike drop quote of the book is this:  “We were two exceptional characters; our loves had to be heroic; the beaten track would have led both of us to ruin.”

Pretty intense, right? In my opinion, the couple did come pretty close to ruin, in the end, and not so close to heroism. Either way, I’m surprised this drama isn’t more popular in the world of classic fiction. If you are a fan of Bronte, you’ll like this one too.

Uncle Silas

I feel like I haven’t posted much lately, but I have been neck deep in Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. This is one of those All Attention Required books. And unfortunately…I didn’t do a very good job of giving it my full focus. I know that I rushed through it, and even still, it seemed to drag on forever.

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The first 25% of the book was decent. While the author was male, the narrator is a female from the 1800s, so it felt very Brontesque at first. And then…it started to twist and turn into a very dark gothic, almost ghost story. It is going to take a second read for me to understand all of the mysterious plots that are afoot in this tale, but something is so very awry here.

You start by thinking it’s a girl and her dear old father, and they are alone in their rich old manor. Eventually, she’s going to have suitors right? That’s what happens in these types of stories. There’s a spooky, estranged uncle, and a crazy, dear aunt-figure (a cousin, really, but she’s way older than Maud). Oh, and don’t forget the drunk governess.

I’m putting this on my Try Again list. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. Mostly, I just didn’t understand everything that happened. I liked the writing, at least once I got used to some of the accents used. And the characters are sufficiently complicated. Worthy read, just needs another run through.

This Gives Me Feels

I know I know. This post is supposed to be about books that make you cry, like The Fault in our Stars. But when have I ever done a post correctly?

Or, even read a book “correctly”…

It always infuriates me when people use that quote, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” Generally, it’s used in a mushy, lovestruck way. You see it on pretty, flowery Pinterest posters all the time.

Taken out of context, sure it sounds lovely.

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But, contrary to everyone’s believe, Wuthering Heights is NOT a lovely book. It’s NOT a romance novel from long ago. Quite the opposite really.

Catherine and Heathcliff were terrible people. They lived to tear everyone in their world apart. The feels I feel for this book? Anger, obviously. Hatred, yes. Despair, certainly.

And yet, I want to read it again. Because that’s the point of literature. To make you feel something so strongly, that even if it’s a horrible feeling…you must feel it again, just to understand it. You must have it make sense.

And Wuthering Heights does not make sense to me yet.

Treesofreverie’s April Read-A-Thon: Reading Challenges

The other thing that the end of April means is that it is the end of the readathon for Treesofreverie! I think I did quite well. Here are the books I read:

Wuthering Heights

A Wrinkle in Time

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Scorch Trials

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

In addition to the books we were reading, there were challenges we were given to complete. Here are the ones I finished.

This is the official list of challenges for anyone who is looking to push themselves during the April Read-A-Thon:

  • Finish an entire book in ONE day
  • Read a book by an author you haven’t read before
  • Read a book about books
  • Read outside
  • Read out loud
  • Finish a book in a series you’ve not yet completed
  • Read a graphic novel or manga
  • Read a book with an LGBTQ+ character
  • Read a Classic
  • Read a book in the Fantasy genre
  • Read a book in the Contemporary genre
  • Read a book from a genre you don’t usually read
  • Read a poetry book
  • Read a collection of short stories
  • Read a book by an indie or self published author
  • Recommend a book to a friend or a fellow book blogger based on what they’re currently reading
  • Share some of your favourite quotes from the books you read during the Read-A-Thon
  • Write a book review for one of the books you read during the Read-A-Thon
  • Take pictures of your reading progress
  • Show off your books by taking more pictures
  • Start a TBR Jar
  • Start a reading journal
  • Organise a book swap with friends

This was a great readathon project! And, what’s really great is I just found out about a new challenge being held in May by Tee the Quoter. This is not a readathon, but a Favorites challenge. Every day I’ll be posting a favorite “thing” about what I’m reading. Here’s the list!

Now, some of these might just be pictures and will be posted to my Instagram and Tumblr accounts, so make sure you’re following those. Some may be reviews that I post here. Either way, I’m excited to have some prompts for different books to write about!

Wuthering Heights

Wow. I never expected to have quite the range of emotions as I did with this book. Classic literature always throws me–the language is challenging because it is so formal. I usually have to read a novel a few times before I actually really understand what is going on. And I think Wuthering Heights is no exception to that rule. However, I will say one thing about my first read through. This book made me REALLY angry.

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Now maybe it didn’t help that this has been a terrible week for me. I was already angry when I sat down to read it. Maybe?

No, I don’t think so. I went into this expecting this big love story. Heathcliff and Catherine. Right? That’s what I’ve always heard about. I was completely ready for a Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet type of story.

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE. Not what I got at all. Holy crap. This is not a romantic story people. This is the tragic story of a toxic, parasitic relationship between a manically depressed woman and a controlling, egotistical maniac. Neither one can let go of the other and they not only leave a path of destruction wider than an F5 tornado in THEIR world, but pretty much ruin the next generation too.

Not even kidding, I’m breaking out in hives while writing this review. I think that I need more wine. Next book please!

 

 

 

Ok…just kidding…kind of. Before I move on, I will tell you that the writing was superb, and obviously the characters were really well developed. I mean, look at the reaction it got from me. Just because my emotional reaction was negative doesn’t mean I hated the book. I will definitely read this again. It just wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Now I know it’s more of a tragedy, not a romance. I’ll read it with a different perspective next time, and I’ll learn something else from it!