The Flight of Gemma Hardy

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What comes through most powerfully is Gemma's sense of loneliness and when she is finally befriended, that too ends in tragedy. Everyone she has ever loved, she observes, has died. But Jane Eyre's legacy is one of endurance and survival. As an adult Gemma is able to forge her way after leaving Claypoole, finding a position as a teacher to Mr Sinclair's niece, at Blackbird Hall in the Orkneys. This place of Neolithic sites and sunbathing seals on wild shores brings Gemma closer to her parents, and to the self she lost when they died. In the final part of the novel, Mr Sinclair precipitates a crisis that compels Gemma to begin her inner search in earnest.

Livesey writes with a remarkable gentleness and sensitivity to children's trauma. Gemma, because of her own early losses, finds redemption in helping others. Her own journey ends in Iceland where Livesey supplies an emotional completeness for her heroine far beyond Bronte's telling.

While Jane must be satisfied with Mr Rochester, Gemma comes to understand that she was "someone's daughter", and with that realisation, she can become someone else. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?

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Make friends with a doomed pupil? Get job teaching the ward of a rich, absentee landowner? Unwittingly help employer on the road when he returns unexpectedly? And so on. While Livesey does infuse her telling with new elements, while she does, in many ways, make the story her own, her changes and updates to the tale often feel uninspired; they rarely made me think about Jane Eyre in new ways or provided much insight into how the story of a girl growing up with this particular set of disadvantages changed in one hundred years.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy (Audiobook) by Margot Livesey |

I thought for a while that perhaps that sense of things not having changed much was the point of the novel, but if so the illustration of that fact falls flat. Having dismissed that notion, I considered the possibility that the novel was meant to illustrate how Jane Eyre, when looked at from a distance, becomes rather silly, how it might have seemed so to its contemporary readers, just as some of its plot elements seem unbelievable when placed in a roughly contemporary setting today. But, no, the book does not suggest to me, in its enfolding, in its careful retracing of the plot of Jane Eyre, any sort of critique of the original novel.

Except, perhaps, in the end. Finally, finally, in the last fifty-or-so pages, The Flight of Gemma Hardy departs from its strict adherence to the plot of Jane Eyre. Upon discovering that she may have family on her father's side still living, and in the aftermath of refusing a perhaps practical but certainly passionless proposal of marriage, Gemma unlike Jane goes in search of that family.

And here are some of my favorite parts of the book. Gemma finds living relatives in Iceland and learns as Jane does not , a fair amount about her childhood before coming to live with her aunt and uncle, about her family, about, as a result, herself. And Mr Sinclair comes to find her, rather than her going back to him. And they do not get married though there's a strong intimation that they will, once Gemma comes to understand herself a little better.

This is the sort of thing I was hoping the whole book would do--put a spin on the familiar story, show how Jane Eyre would be if she'd been born in the aftermath of World War II. And in some ways I suppose it does do that, but I never really felt that the novel was fully reimagining the original story. I did so want to love The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels, and I thought a retelling of it had a lot of potential.

Unfortunately, Livesey doesn't quite tap into that potential--I spent much of the novel wishing she or someone had reimagined Jane Eyre in its original setting, taking up the story from some crucial point in the original and exploring what might have happened if Jane had made different choices. But I do give mad props to Livesey for trying, and on the strength of her prose, I will be looking out for some of her previous novels.

Growing up an orphan in Scotland in the s, Gemma Hardy is sent by her aunt to a rotten school, where this bright orphan holds her own until she gets a job as a governess for a young charge. If you think that sounds awfully like Jane Eyre, you would be right - the author makes no bones about her literary debt, but modernizes and explores the tale in an interesting way. Even better, The Flight of Gemma Hardy stands well on its own as a good story, even if a reader is unfamiliar with the original classic.

Gemma is determined and smart and holds her own, so I generally rooted for her even when I did not like her or some of her decisions. She's also self-absorbed and hypocritical, you see, expecting a lot more from others than she expects from herself. And because we're getting her first-person account of her life, we're seeing everyone else's actions through her biases. Though I don't like Gemma Hardy as much as its literary parent, there is enough meat to the story - themes of friendship and connection, for example, and the symbolism of islands and birds - to make readers have plenty to think and talk about after the last page is turned.

Fabulous writing - great storyline and vivid characters. Gemma has been dealt a rough deck of cards in life. She is resourceful, smart and with a good heart. The Flight of Gemma Hardy takes us from her aunt's home to boarding school, her first job, first love and finding her way back home again. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason. Due to the high volume of feedback, we are unable to respond to individual comments.

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Margot Livesey. Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Book Format: Choose an option. Add to Cart. Product Highlights The resonant story of a young woman's struggle to take charge of her own future, The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a modern take on a classic story--Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre--that will fascinate readers of the Gothic original and fans of modern literary fiction alike, with its lyrical prose, robust characters, and abundant compassion.

Set in early s Scotland, this breakout novel from award-winning author Margot Livesey is a tale of determination and spirit that, like The Three Weissmanns of Westport and A Thousand Acres, spins an unforgettable new story from threads of our shared, still-living literary past. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Set in early s Scotland, this breakout novel from award-winning author Margot Livesey is a tale of determination and spirit that, like The Three Weissmanns of Westport and A Thousand Acres , spins an unforgettable new story from threads of our shared, still-living literary past.

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Average rating: 1 out of 5 stars, based on reviews. Overcoming a life of hardship and loneliness, Gemma Hardy, a brilliant and determined young woman, accepts a position as an au pair on the remote Orkney Islands where she faces her biggest challenge yet. Ms Livesey, in her acknowledgments, simply and briefly states: My literary debt is obvious.

I was unaware of this when I began reading but about a quarter of the way through, the part about Gemma's hardships as a working girl at a boarding school and her sole friend there who suffered from serious asthma, I began to wonder what Ms Livesey was doing. Later, when Gemma becomes a nanny and falls for the attractive,mercurial owner of Blackbird Hall, I couldn't put the book down-I had to throw it down! I mean, who re-writes Jane Eyre?!

WHY re-write Jane Eyre?!