"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gemma's Journey Gives Her Wings and Grounds Her in The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy
Author:  Margot Livesey
Published:   2012 (this edition)
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages:  443 (not including acknowledgments, About the Author, About the Book, Read On)

Source:  A complimentary copy was provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  The opinion expressed here is my own.
"Taken from her native Iceland to Scotland in the early 1950s when her widower father drowns at sea, young Gemma Hardy comes to live with her kindly uncle and his family. But his death leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and she suddenly finds herself an unwelcome guest. Surviving oppressive years at a strict private school, Gemma ultimately finds a job as an au pair to the eight-year-old niece of Mr. Sinclair on the Orkney Islands—and here, at the mysterious and remote Blackbird Hall, Gemma’s greatest trial begins.
A captivating homage to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane EyreThe Flight of Gemma Hardy is a sweeping saga that resurrects the timeless themes of the original, but is destined to become a classic all its own." (TLC Book Tours)

My Thoughts:

At first when I discovered The Flight of Gemma Hardy was very much like Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, I was intrigued.  In fact, that is the reason I wanted to read this novel.  Then, as I started reading, it seemed to me to be unoriginal...just a modern re-telling of a beloved classic tale.  I was impatient at chapter 10, wanting some originality.  Well, I got it!!

Though the origins of the tale, that of an orphan taken in by her uncle and then left to be raised in a house of hatred following his death, is almost a mirror image of Jane Eyre's story, Margot Livesey soon proved that she could spin a tale from modest beginnings and take it on a journey similar to the original and yet quite different.  You could liken The Flight of Gemma Hardy to Jane Eyre, but while Jane comes off as pure and righteous, Gemma Hardy takes actions that Jane would have frowned upon. Knowing that the actions she takes hurt people she cares about, they serve an ultimate purpose for Gemma and she carries through because she sees no other way.  It is, she believes, her only chance for true discovery.

While her traits are less admirable than her predecessor, the reader cannot help but relate to this young woman with spunk and an unyielding spirit.  To see this young Gemma rise above her circumstance, to accomplish her goals and to come to terms with her life and with herself, is what all of us wish to do.  In Gemma we see ourselves, not perhaps as we'd like to, but perhaps as we would be should we be found in similar circumstance.

In no other hands, would this tale of Gemma Hardy, which is likened unto a modern Jane Eyre, be given justice.  Margot Livesey's writing is fluid, full of emotion and vivid in its portrayals.  In summary, I loved The Flight of Gemma Hardy!  If you are a Jane Eyre fan, give The Flight of Gemma Hardy a place in your life.  The likeness will draw you in and the story will take you away.

Margot Livesey is the acclaimed author of the novels The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Livesey was born in Scotland and grew up on the edge of the Highlands. She lives in the Boston area and is a distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an AMAZING read! Thanks for being on the tour.


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