This is one of those books, like Jane Eyre, that I wish I’d read when I was young and impressionable. It would have probably done me more good that Sweet Valley High and an endless stream of Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine and V.C. Andrews novels. Not that there’s anything wrong with those books, but a protagonist who isn’t always the prettiest or the most talented and who’s happy with a man who’s not always the most dashing or handsome would have been helpful during my formative years.
The titular Agnes is a young woman of modest means who takes work as a governess to help her family through financial hardship. Most of the book is dedicated to her hardships as a governess. More specifically, Agnes is constantly hampered in her attempts to educate or discipline her pupils by the parents’ insistence that the children are perfect special snowflakes who should not be unduly upset or bothered by the governess. It is later in the book that she meets Edward Weston and soon realizes she is in love with him. It’s not his looks, charm or even wit that attract her but his kindness, morality and piety.
The book is short and the plot is straightforward with very few twists and turns. Like Agnes, it wastes no time on frivolities but gets right to the point. It’s plain but it’s certainly not dull. It’s a book I would give is a gift to a girl just entering the tween years with the hope that it plants a seed that blooms into something bigger.