I don’t remember why I requested this one from the library. I probably read a couple reviews and decided I needed to read it.
It’s very good. It will likely go on my Best of 2012 list.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey is part update and part homage to Jane Eyre but it is much more. Gemma’s story stands on its own just fine.
Gemma is an orphan with a nasty aunt who sends her away to boarding school where Gemma ends up more servant than scholarship student.
As a young adult, Gemma is forced to make her way in the world without friends, family, or funds.
She lands a job as an au pair on the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Anyone familiar with Jane Eyre and her story will know the arc of Gemma’s story.
Livesey’s writing is poetical but practical. She keeps the story moving with well-drawn characters who stand on their own. Gemma has a steel will and this can make her a bit unsympathetic since she’s so determined to have her own way. But given her background, it’s understandable, and so forgivable.
I loved the beginning with Gemma’s childhood. The rest of the book is excellent, but not quite as magical and enthralling as those first hundred pages or so.
Definitely recommended, especially for Jane Eyre fans, but anyone can read and appreciate The Flight of Gemma Hardy for what it is: an excellent book.