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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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7527212,358 (3.58)104
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)

  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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» See also 104 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
I started this book having no knowledge that it's the literary equivalent of a cover song: it's a modernized version of Jane Eyre. The fact that I was able to discern this without having read Jane Eyre in over 20 years did not bode well.

I get it - there are just so many stories to tell in this life. Ultimately, every story boils down to either conflict or quest: without one of these, you're just mumbling. So everything could be reduced to a re-telling of something else.

Still, Livesey's reliance on the orphan trope, the structure of Jane's tale, even the re-appearance of the older landed gentleman, is a little much. Given how beautiful her prose is, I think she actually does herself a dis-service as an author by re-telling someone else's tale.

In the end, I am happy for Gemma, but it feels a little forced. Who wouldn't be happy for an orphan who finds family & fortune & love? ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
Like the classic that inspired it, it's so easy to immerse yourself in this tale. Even though the names, places and era are different, it still evokes Jane Eyre beautifully. I appreciated both the bones of the story and the alterations. ( )
  VictoriaPL | Apr 29, 2016 |
I'd give it another half star if I could! ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
I'd give it another half star if I could! ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (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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