Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

All the reviewers indicate that The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey is a modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre or,as the book jacket says, an homage to Charlotte Bronte's story. Reviewers also indicate that the book includes elements of Livesey's life. 

Margot Livesey says: "I made my heroine a little older than myself because I wanted her to come of age just slightly before the rising tide of feminism—the pill, equal pay, discrimination—broke over both Britain and the States. The Flight of Gemma Hardy is, in my mind, neither my autobiography nor a retelling of Jane Eyre. Rather I am writing back to Charlotte Brontë, recasting Jane's journey to fit my own courageous heroine and the possibilities of her time and place. And like Brontë I am, of course, stealing from my own life."

Gemma Hardy, orphaned as a small child, is taken from her native Iceland to Scotland where she grows up in varied settings and circumstances - with a kind and loving uncle, with a resentful and abusive aunt, at a private school as a scholarship student, on the Orkney Islands as an au pair, and more. It is set in the 1950's and 1960's, in Iceland and Scotland, with characters in circumstances both rich and poor. Gemma's story is one of passion and of love, a journey of self discovery, a tale of coming of age - all with numerous twists and turns. 

Author Alice Sebold says, "Every novel of Margot Livesey's is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery."

I found this book to be everything Alice Sebold indicates and enjoyed it immensely.  I hope you will too.

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