Brontë Season

I maintain that April-through-June is the ideal time to observe Brontë Season, where I listen to audiobooks by these weird sisters while walking the park or even better, sun-bathing sensuously. (Because they apparently hated that, and I am tormenting them from this side of the grave.)

Eh, OK, I did listen to Villette indoors in December once. But on the whole that time of year is too bleak for Brontë Season. Because for a Brontë narrator, even creature comforts like warm rooms, soft blankets, and hot beverages in mugs are too frivolous to be savored.

When I last read Anne Brontë, I greatly enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. But so far, I’m struggling listening to Agnes Grey. Our heroine is, unsurprisingly, a young governess from humble origins. But unlike many of the loner Brontë leading ladies, Agnes was from a warm household, full of love, though she still felt underestimated enough to venture out into the world to earn a living and support her parents (both still living!).

… And she hates it. The families who take her in are strange, cruel, and cheap. They serve poor-quality meat at dinner then make a big performance of scolding the cook for preparing it wrong.

Agnes’s wards are spoiled and stupid, and her narratives descend into fantasies of how she would beat them if she could. Agnes maintains it is her Christian duty to beat on these kids! Yikes.

I’ll stick with it a while longer, because even this most dour of all narrators does admit to feeling lonely and crushed by monotony. Agnes does eventually admit to loving dogs and wildflowers, especially the primrose. There is hope that things will change for this character, and there is something about early spring that makes me crave these novels, no matter how austere the characters are. Maybe it’s because during East Coast Spring I am experiencing these characters’ peak summer weather, so I can imagine this is as bright and hot as it gets for them. Thunder storms always roll through and bring emotional chaos for characters; Brontë characters are forever clammy and cold with their emotions and longings PENT UP. Restraint makes more sense in a cooler, damper climate, I think—or actually, that’s just me repeating the junk science of the early 1800s. (So far, Agnes Grey has more religious ardor and less phrenology than other Brontë books!)

Just about halfway through my current listen, Agnes Grey, the titular character is enjoying a sunny day at the park with a book … and then decides she is being too idle, so she leaves.

Sigh. I hereby vow to enjoy pretty sunny days and books for all the repressed governesses who came before me!

In my own life, April ended with three solid days of rain. Lots of motivation for reading and for finishing our last puzzle of the year:

Oh yeah, the previous weekend was also rainy! Board games help.

My neighborhood is hatching:

Still fun in the rain: volunteer day at an animal sanctuary.

I literally don’t remember planting irises. But these irises bloomed in the rain:

Aaaaand, a person can still eat tacos in the rain, I have confirmed!

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