Monday, March 19, 2012

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy
Author Margot Livesey
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.
Review: To put it simply, this is a book readers will love or despise. Which way  the reader rolls will ultimately depend on their everlasting devotion to Jane Eyre. My natural reaction is to recommend, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, to fans of Bronte, but purists may (and have been) put-off by the re-creation and are abashed by the blatant audacity of retelling a beloved classic. However, if someone has to do it, I'm pleased that Margot Livesey took on the challenge.  Her prose are elegant, setting imaginative and the character are vivid and memorable.  Personally, I liked that Gemma did not carry the same voice as Jane, albeit, similar. There was just enough difference to give an original style to the novel and portray the time period accurately. For me, this novel read more like a homage to a great, rather than a breech of the literary fortress. So exactly what worked? You don't have to know or have read Jane Eyre to thoroughly enjoy this novel. It stands alone, strong and is self-reliant.  Being familiar with Jane Eyre is a bonus and allows for drawing comparisons, identifying similarities, while at the same time, has just enough nuances to hold the readers interest. Most literary enthusiasts know the story of Jane Eyre, but Gemma Hardy's ...well, her journey is new, fresh and involves its own twist.  You might think you know how it will end, but do you? As I said earlier, either you'll love it or hate it -- which is evident if you've already browsed other reviews. I choose to love it!
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  1. I'm not a purists so this might be something I like. Great review. Thank for putting this on my radar.

    You might find this bio interesting. I never set out to challenge the Bronte story but after 7 years of researching the family, I noticed several secrets emerging from the pages and felt I should let readers decide on what's fact and what's fiction.