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The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel (P.S.) by…
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The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel (P.S.) (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Margot Livesey

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7416812,575 (3.58)97
Member:bookwoman84
Title:The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Margot Livesey
Info:Harper Perennial (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library, Read 2013
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (2012)

Recently added byprivate library, JLSMEG, MaureenCean, MisaBookworm, madamefaust, swssms, LadyBill, tmscott13, SabinaE
  1. 10
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Flight of Gemma Hardy is an updated version of Jane Eyre, set in mid-20th-century Scotland. Read the original to get a fuller understanding of Gemma's choices.
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Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
A great personal journey, although not as long as the Icelandic sagas referred to in the book. As in Jane Eyre, I really liked the character and her determination to be respected and loved for herself.

I almost wish I hadn't been told on the book flap that this was a remake of Jane Eyre, because I kept comparing and noticing differences (necessary, by the way, for a different century). The beginning would have made it impossible to miss the connections, anyway. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
This is a wonderful modernized re-telling of Jane Eyre. Margot Livesey does a very nice job creating her own characters. Well done! ( )
  cjservis | Jan 17, 2016 |
Enjoyed the first half; then lost interest a bit. . . Didn't end up finishing. ( )
  TheEditrix | Jan 13, 2016 |
Beautiful coming of age story set in 1960s Great Britain. Gemma Hardy, orphaned as a child, is taken in by her mother's brother. When her uncle passes away, she is mistreated by her aunt and cousins, and is eventually sent away to a boarding school at age 10. As a poor, "working girl" at her new school, Gemma is treated like a second class citizen. She does well with her studies but unfortunately the school closes before she is able to graduate. Not welcome back at her aunt's home, Gemma takes a position as a nanny in the Ornkney Islands. At 18, Gemma has weathered many storms and is a fierce survivor. She finally finds love, but not without trials and errors along the way. Livesey pays homage to Jane Eyre in The Flight of Gemma Hardy. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Dec 16, 2015 |
It started out well, and the author can write.

There are only two, nay three things that I didn't like:
1. Mr. Sinclair (Gemma's love interest) is very undeveloped. The author has tried to make him as nuanced as Rochester is, but has tamed his traits so much that the result is... not interesting. E.g. Rochester raises an orphan child that may or may not be his, even though little Adele mostly reminds him of her mother's betrayal. Mr. Sinclair is merely raising his actual niece, no ambiguity there. As the uncle of little Nell he has a responsibility to her; Rochester had none towards Adele, and the same gesture has different weight in a different context.
When Rochester wants to make Jane jealous he all but proposes to Blanche (and in fact he even tells Jane he will marry Blanche in the near future; it's really a sign of Charlotte Bronte's skill that she has managed to make Rochester likable despite his outright lying to Jane). Mr. Sinclair on the other hand is just there, he does have a woman come visit him, together with a few friends, but that's pretty much everything that happens. Rochester dresses as a gypsy and deceives everyone, poor Mr. Sinclair just does not contradict what a random gypsy said about his fortune. And so on, ending with...

2. I'm not going to go into detail here, but Mr. Sinclair's secret is almost laughable compared to Rochester's. What's more important, young Rochester made a mistake and he's still saddled with the results; Mr. Sinclair's wrongdoing (though I don't find it all that wrong) happened twenty years before, and it had nothing to do with his relationship with Gemma. Everything Gemma did after seems like a vast overreaction, and hard to actually take seriously.

3, and the reason why I gave this book two stars
(minor spoiler about Gemma's life after leaving Mr. Sinclair will follow)

Gemma ends up living with an old lady, and her husband who recently had a stroke. And suddenly she feels like going to find her birthplace and her roots *at that very moment*, and she steals money from the old couple to pay for her plane tickets. Because surely the old lady didn't have enough troubles already. I find this gesture downright DESPICABLE, especially as at the moment she stole the money Gemma knew she had no means to return them in the near future (later on she comes across an inheritance, but she didn't know about it at the time). And she doesn't even have any particular qualms about it! She just takes in her stride the fact that yes, I'm a grown-up now, and I have lied and I have stolen (as if being a grown-up entails lying and stealing from others, by default), without showing an ounce of remorse.

So yeah, two stars.
  kaystj | Jul 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
But like a production of “Twelfth Night” where all the characters are played as cowboys or Prohibition-era gangsters, “Gemma Hardy” left me wondering why “Jane Eyre” needs to be resettled in the late 1950s. Livesey makes little of the contrast between the two tales or even the contrast between the two eras. Indeed, Gemma’s life in these small, remote towns seems so much closer to the early 19th century than the mid-20th that I was always startled when an automobile intruded on the scene.

....When an author dons the mantle of a classic, it’s not unreasonable to expect her to reanimate it in some significant way. There’s nothing jarring or silly about this homage (for that, see Sherri Browning Erwin’s “Jane Slayre” with a werewolf bride in the attic), but for all of Live­sey’s intelligent and graceful storytelling, she keeps Gemma Hardy’s flight too close to the ground.
 
"This original slant on a classic story line captures the reader's interest and sustains it to the end. Fans of modern interpretations of the classics will particularly enjoy."
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Catherine Tingelstad (Nov 1, 2011)
 
. “The Flight of Gemma Hardy,” Livesey’s appealing new novel, is, as she has explained, a kind of continued conversation, a “recasting” of both “Jane Eyre” and Livesey’s own childhood. Set mostly in Scotland in the late 1950s and ’60s, the narrative follows the fortunes of a young girl, Gemma Hardy, who is beset by bad luck. ...Livesey is a lovely, fluid writer. There’s much pleasure to be had in her descriptions of neolithic sites in Orkney and, most of all, her abiding affinity for the natural world: “the limpet’s frill of muscle” found while the young Gemma pulls shells off the rocks in a windswept cove, the “gleaming scar” on a beech tree that has lost the branch where a rope swing once hung, the experience of “retrieving two warm eggs from a drowsy red hen.”

It isn’t, however, until the final third of the novel, when Gemma, risking her own life, is forced to leave what she loves and act independently, that “The Flight of Gemma Hardy” becomes its most satisfying self.
 
How do you recast a classic? Follow Margot Livesey's lead in The Flight of Gemma Hardy, a riveting retelling of Jane Eyre that puts the familiar feminist heroine in the pre-feminist world of early 1960s Scotland. The result is distinct and even daring — and far from derivative.

It's a tricky prospect, paying (nearly) modern homage to a piece of literature that was done so right the first time, but from the first few pages, Flight soars on its own writerly wings.
 

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Epigraph
Home is the sailor, home from the sea
And the hunter home from the hill.
—"Requiem," Robert Louis Stevenson
Dedication
For Roger Sylvester, 1922-2008
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We did not go for a walk on the first day of the year.
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Book description
Book Description
Publication Date: January 24, 2012

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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062064223, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

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