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Book Review – The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

SynopsisAcclaimed, award-winning
author Margot Livesey delivers her breakout novel: a captivating tale,
set in Scotland in the early 1960s, that is both an homage and a modern
variation on the enduring classic, Jane Eyre

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten,
neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where
she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life
of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely
intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and
setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an
independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a
position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.

But Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of
passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery that
will lead her to a life she’s never dreamed.

First LineWe did not go for a walk on the first day of the year.

Random QuoteAt last, when I could no longer stand it, I went to the kitchen on the pretext of making Nell a bedtime treat of hot chocolate.  Vicky was at the table, sorting eggs.  No that the ferry strike had ended we were again sending them to the mainland twice a week.  As I set a saucepan of milk on the stove, I said that Nell had been asking about her uncle’s whereabouts.

Review:  In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have re-read Jane Eyre so close to my reading of The Flight of Gemma Hardy.  I think I would’ve enjoyed the latter much more if it had been further in proximity from the former.

Ms. Livesey can write, and I’m definitely curious about trying some of her other books, but most of this book doesn’t work as well for me.  Rather than being a book based on and containing elements of Jane Eyre (like Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier), this book is based on and follows Jane Eyre too closely.  It focuses the eye away from the new story and to a game of How Many Things from Jane Eyre Can You Recognize.”  It’s very distracting and definitely detracts from what seems like a good story in the moments I could pay attention to it.

The characters are, of course, based on the original yet they seem more muted somehow – drained of the passion and dramatic turmoil and melodrama that make Jane Eyre fun.  All of this changes in the last third of the book when Gemma Hardy finally takes flight into her very own conclusion.

Read this, just not in close proximity with the original.

FTC Disclosure:  Advance copy received from the publisher for the author’s virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours

Publishing InformationHarperCollins – January 24, 2012

Format:  Kindle


Reading Challenges:  European Reading Challenge, Mammoth Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

I am pleased to have been a part of Ms. Livesey’s virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours.  Be sure to check out the other stops on the way!

About Margot Livesey

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
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Margos Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 30th: Just Joanna *
Wednesday, February 1st: Book Reviews by Molly *
Thursday, February 2nd: A Library of My Own
Tuesday, February 14th: Much Madness is Divine Sense
Wednesday, February 15th: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, February 16th: Chaotic Compendiums *
Monday, February 20th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, February 21st: Coffee and A Book Chick
Tuesday, February 21st: The Whimsical Cottage
Wednesday, February 22nd: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, February 23rd: Book Nook Club
Tuesday, February 28th: Its a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Wednesday, February 29th: ooldes of books
Thursday, March 1st: Book Clutter
Monday, March 5th: Book Journey
Tuesday, March 6th: Dreys Library
Wednesday, March 7th: Book-a-rama
Thursday, March 8th: Unabridged Chick *
* also reading Jane Eyre

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