When her widower father drowns at sea, Gemma Hardy is taken from her native Iceland to Scotland to live with her kind uncle and his family. But the death of her doting guardian leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and it soon becomes clear that she is nothing more than an unwelcome guest at Yew House. When she receives a scholarship to a private school, ten-year-old Gemma believes she’s found the perfect solution and eagerly sets out again to a new home. However, at Claypoole she finds herself treated as an unpaid servant.
To Gemma’s delight, the school goes bankrupt, and she takes a job as an au pair on the Orkney Islands. The remote Blackbird Hall belongs to Mr. Sinclair, a London businessman; his eight-year-old niece is Gemma’s charge. Even before their first meeting, Gemma is, like everyone on the island, intrigued by Mr. Sinclair. Rich (by Gemma’s standards), single, flying in from London when he pleases, Hugh Sinclair fills the house with life. An unlikely couple, the two are drawn to each other, but Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin: a journey of passion and betrayal, redemption and discovery, that will lead her to a life of which she’s never dreamed.
Set in Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s and ’60s, The Flight of Gemma Hardy—a captivating homage to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre—is a sweeping saga that resurrects the timeless themes of the original but is destined to become a classic all its own.
About The Author:
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.
So. I’ve NEVER read Jane Eyre. I know, I know. What planet am I from to have NEVER read Bronte’s novel? Surprisingly enough, I’m from here on planet Earth. I’ve been in the dark ages when it comes to some of Bronte’s work, but no longer! I LOVED Jane Eyre. Bronte’s work is splendid and captivating and swept me away instantly! As big as the novel is, I thought it would take me weeks to get it read. Nope. TWO days. I was that engrossed in the story. I stayed up until 2 or 3 am reading it, and before I knew it, I was finished. Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, and even Eyre’s crotchety old aunt are amazing characters! Each one was filled with complexity and blew me away! I could feel myself transform into Jane Eyre. I felt all her troubles and her emotions as if they were mine. P-O-W-E-R-F-U-L!!! I am going back and seeking out ALL of Ms. Bronte’s work to add to my forever collection.
Now, on to Margot Livesey’s The Flight Of Gemma Hardy. A Jane Eyre retelling, definitely. Just a good as Ms. Bronte’s skills, Ms. Livesey sweeps the reader into a world of greatness as she portrays life through the eyes of Gemma Hardy. Swept away once again, I had this book finished in less than 3 days. Gemma’s story transformed me, as I took flight among the characters. Gemma and Sinclair are very much like Jane and Rochester. Like Eyre, Hardy was filled with emotions and twists that left in awe through out the story. After reading Eyre, it was hard to think that someone could create a story as wonderful as it, but Livesey has done it. Her skills are as masterful as Bronte’s and I loved the portrayal of Gemma. Gemma is orphaned much like Jane was, but with Gemma, she spreads her wings, and takes flight in a whole new way. I loved it.
I don’t want to spoil the story for everyone, so I won’t go much further. Watching Gemma going from being an orphan to accepting her life and making friendships, really opened my eyes. I loved watching Gemma blossom and mature.
If you love Bronte’s work, then this is no doubt a book that you will want to add to your collection. If you’ve never read Charlotte Bronte’s work before, then take flight with Gemma Hardy and dive into the works of a wonderfully talented, incredibly skilled author. You’ll love Ms. Livesey’s work and make her book a part of your forever collection. I am now a fan of Ms. Livesey and I hope to see more modern day portrayals of famous novels from this masterful author!