The story follows Agnes Grey, a governess, as she works for well-to-do English families. Anne herself worked as a eagerness for five years so the novel is partly autobiographical. The novel deals with the precarious nature of being a governess and how that affected women in that position.
But our wishes are like tinder: the flint and steel of circumstances are continually striking out sparks, which vanish immediately, unless they chance to fall upon the tinder of our wishes; then, they instantly ignite, and the flame of hope is kindled in a moment. ~ Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte