Review: Agnes Grey

Agnes Grey was Anne Brontë’s debut novel, an autobiographical coming-of-age story.

The protagonist is Agnes, the daughter of a minister who decides to become a governess in order to help her family financially. The families she encounters are not how she imagined. She finds herself surrounded by hostile environments and obnoxiously misbehaved children, causing her to feel disqualified and isolated.  

It was an easy and quick read. I admired Agnes’ positive attitude throughout the hardships she endures, always focusing on the glass half-full and finally getting the happy ending she deserved. 

However, I still enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall much more, which was Anne’s second and last novel. In it, her writing was bolder, and her chosen themes were ahead of her time. Agnes Grey, on the other hand, felt more mellow and predictable.

While she is the least popular Brontë sister, she has become my favorite. If you like classic literature, do yourself a favor and pick one of her books.  


Review: Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park Jane Austen Editorial Alba

Jane Austen’s novels are comfort reads for me because regardless of all the adversity, the protagonists always get the happy ending they so much deserve. Mansfield Park is the sixth novel I read by her, and it did not disappoint. 

Here’s the GoodReads description: Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

Fanny Price, unlike the other heroines, is shy, quiet, and observant. She follows her gut and dislikes certain characters from the very beginning, although they hadn’t done anything (yet). As an introvert myself, I felt identified with her in several scenes, making her my favorite character of all of Jane Austen’s works.

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Pride and Prejudice Reread

Hello there! Almost a month since my last post. So after finishing The Broken Girls, I was thinking about continuing with my To Be Read pile, but I wasn’t in a big mood for reading. With everything happening right now in the world, it’s inevitable to feel anxious at times. Which is why I decided to read once again Pride and Prejudice. Because you can never go wrong with Jane Austen, am I right?

The first time I read Pride and Prejudice was back in 2013, I was doing a project for university where I had to choose a novel and analyze the character’s feelings. However, I felt I didn’t read it consciously since I was so preoccupied with meeting the deadline for the assignment.

I have two copies of Pride and Prejudice, they’re both in Spanish (though I do hope to eventually buy her books in English). The one on the left is actually the copy I bought back in 2013 for the university assignment, and inside it’s pretty messed up. Some parts are underlined with a pencil or pen, and some are even highlighted. But oh well, it’s what makes it unique. The copy on the right side is actually an illustrated edition, you can take a sneak peek of it here and here.

All in all, this reread has reinforced Jane Austen as one of my favorite authors. I’ve always been amazed at how Austen captures the character’s personalities so perfectly, even the secondary ones have detailed descriptions. From shallow to down-to-earth, from iniquitous to innocent ― it’s crazy to think how two hundred years later you can still find people with similar traits. Thought processes and emotions are vividly captured by her words.

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”

So that’d be all for now. I’m still debating on what to read next. Follow me on Instagram to stay posted. ‘Til next time!

Review: Emma

It’s better late than never, right? As you may have noticed, I didn’t post any book reviews on the blog during 2019. So while I’ll still be sharing short reviews on Instagram, on the blog expect to find more elaborate ramblings on the books I’m reading.

The first book I’ve finished this year was Emma. To be honest, I tried reading Emma last year but couldn’t get past the first chapter. For some odd reason, I just wasn’t feeling it. Has that ever happened to you? And as an avid reading and Jane Austen admirer, I even felt kinda guilty. But several months passed and it wasn’t until December ‘19 that I decided to give it another try. Only then did I realize that the edition I had bought had some faded pages. The print was small so it made it really hard to read. Hence, I bought another edition (hurray to hoarding books).

This time, I did get into the story. I would’ve finished sooner, but with the holidays and a small trip I took outside of the country, made it difficult to read without interruptions. Nevertheless, I finished Emma in less than two months. For some, it might be a lot of time. For me, that’s around my average. If I’m completely honest, I’m not the fastest reader. Not to mention, I have the habit of rereading certain passages as I go along, which causes me to take more time.

Well now back to the novel. Emma is about Emma (well isn’t that obvious?). She’s young and wealthy, the youngest daughter of Mr. Woodhouse and lives in Highbury. At the young age of 21, she basically considers herself an expert at identifying people’s wishes and intentions. She’s even played “cupid” and takes the credit for Ms. Taylor’s marriage — her former governess. While topics as such entertain her, she by no means has the intention of getting married.

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Review: Sense and Sensibility

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Hello! I finally finished reading Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, her first published novel in 1811. Honestly, I found it a bit slow at first. The first several chapters focused on describing the characters and settings and lacked dialogue. I’d say that out of the four Jane Austen novels I’ve read (Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and now Sense and Sensibility) this one has been the most descriptive of them all. By all means, description is good because it allows you to visualize everything clearer, but all the action is centered in the last quarter of the novel.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an article written by an English professor, explaining why she doesn’t like Jane Austen. At first, I was astonished. Given Austen’s popularity, I thought everyone enjoyed her books. Then I was even more surprised to find out Charlotte Brontë and other famous writers didn’t like Austen’s work either. And as I was reading Sense and Sensibility, I grasped why they didn’t enjoy her work but at the same time, it made me realize that regardless of other people’s opinion, Jane Austen will always be one of my favorite authors. She provides entertainment and can transfer you automatically to the heroine’s world, being mostly a middle-class girl in her late teens surviving love and heartbreaks in the early 1800s.

In case you haven’t read Sense and Sensibility before, here’s a brief summary: after the death of her husband, Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are forced to move from Norland Park to Barton Park, where they start making regular visits to their closest neighbors (Lady Middleton and Sir John) and end up establishing a friendship with them. Later, Mrs. Jennings (Lady Middleton’s mother) invites the two eldest Dashwood sisters (Elinor and Marianne) to spend some weeks with her in London. Both girls hope to encounter the boys with whom they’ve been talking to, secretly wishing for those bonds to become some sort of formal engagement. Most of the plot is set in London, where Elinor and Marianne become intertwined in gossip — apparently, these guys are already in love with other girls. But are all the rumors true? That’s your job to find out, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

The story had some touching moments, I sympathized with Marianne — even in the 21st century, some men are still selfish jerks. As for Elinor, I felt completely identified with her, she has a personality that’s very similar to mine, it was both eerie and comforting knowing that I’m not the only one. But then there were many witty and laugh-provoking moments. Austen once again did an excellent job turning the mundane to amusing.

I’d rather not rate this novel, I loved it but at the same time I’m very aware that it wasn’t perfect. But if I had to give it a rating, I’d say it lies somewhere between 3.5 and 4. If the plot climax had started a bit earlier, I’d give it a 5.

‘Til next time!

Review: Jane Eyre

My Olivine Book Review Jane Eyre

First of all, the Brontë sisters definitely had talent in their genes in order to have written such compelling stories. Now, I don’t want to compare them because Emily and Charlotte had different styles. The aspects they shared in common were creating characters who acknowledged their flaws and transmitting strong emotions. As for Anne, I still haven’t read any of her work, though I certainly look forward to it.

Jane Eyre’ is officially now one of my favorite novels and has been added to my list of books that must be reread. Jane is a character with whom I quickly empathized. The story is about her recounting her past experiences ten years after her marriage, starting when she was 10 years old. Just a brief summary: Jane had been an orphan since she was a newborn and never met her parents. Her aunt became in charge of her care (unwillingly) and didn’t treat her fairly which caused Jane to ‘misbehave’. Therefore, her aunt decided to send to her Lowood, a charity school for orphaned girls where she’d  spend the next eight years of her life. But the story really begins when she leaves Lowood in order to become a governess in the faraway village of Milcote. Never did she expect to meet Mr. Rochester — the owner of Thornfield Hall and the legal guardian of the little girl who she’d be teaching. Being this a love story, yes they do fall in love but she ends up getting her heart broken. This causes Jane to leave Thornfield and head off to nowhere in particular. Just when she thought she was alone in this world, she ends up meeting a special group of people whom she establishes a close bond with. But Mr. Rochester never left her heart or her thoughts. Will she return and mend things with her old master? I don’t like spoiling it for anyone, though I’m sure most of you have read the novel already or have seen the film adaptations.

Charlotte Brontë did an excellent job describing the settings and the whirl of emotions that Jane experiments. I know some people dislike such detailed descriptions because they don’t really add up to the plot, plus all the bible citation now seems outdated (regardless of your religion, we have to give props to Charlotte for elaborating a thought-out plan that includes biblical verses and previous literature references in the precise moments). I personally enjoyed this book because I could easily imagine myself walking down the Thornfield garden or gazing at Morton’s rocky landscape.

Moreover, the characters made plenty of mistakes throughout the story, Jane included. There were many facepalm/eye rolling moments where I thought to myself “Jane, why are you doing this?”. But then again, she was young and naive and the story is precisely about evolving and learning. Not to mention, her opinions on gender roles were unconventional back then, making her an O.G. of feminism.

My only critique is the way the author decided to end the novel. The last two paragraphs were about St. John, which I personally felt it wasn’t that relevant. I would have preferred a couple of closing sentences about her husband or children, or herself even. But that’s just me.

Overall rating: 5/5

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.”