You guys, I am really enjoying this spring/summer of Brontë! To recap, I re-read Jane Eyre, then tackled The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and The Professor, and now this! There is only one book remaining on this list for me to read, and then I can make a ranking of my own. (Though, to be fair, I should probably re-read Wuthering Heights to see if I hate it any less – I generally can’t handle the incessant meanness of all of the characters, and spend most of the book pleading with them to just be reasonable and forgive each other and move on with their lives!)
It’s good to think of this in relation to the other Brontë books, because it’s very familiar. I’m sure someone has charted how many characters in these books are governesses or start their own schools or marry pastors. Agnes totally did it all, with the added bonus of a mother who is cut of from family wealth for the sin of marrying beneath her and building a supportive, emotionally healthy home.
Now that I’m listing these things, I understand why these authors and their books are so wonderful – they show the often-unnoticed strength of women. Their character, tenacity, courage, forgiveness, support, and love is on display in these books, often in contexts that are entirely unexciting. These books are mostly (when they’re not about, like, ghosts and impossible loves) about living a good, small life. Though they’re not about settling in any way – every character that I can think of is hard-working and persistently seeking to better themselves and their situations. Oh man, this makes me want to read some biographies of the authors, so I can understand how radical this work was at the time!
No haiku this time. I’ll wait until I re-read this book. (Though I could probably come up with something about a small dog being an integral/adorable plot point, but we’ll save that for another day.)