Monday, November 19, 2012

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
Release Date – January 24, 2012
Publisher Website –  Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 447 pages
My Rating- 4/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
This story may be inspiried by Jane Eyre, and there are many similarities to be found, but this story stands on it’s own. A sweeping homage to the classics, it’s filled with vivid imagery, a driven main character, and a story that is simple, but timeless.

The descriptions of Scotland and Iceland were dynamic. I was instantly transported into the setting. It’s immediately clear how much research went into the setting itself. The Iceland portion made the country sound beautiful, with dramatic scenery.

Gemma’s journey from a young orphan living with her Aunt to the woman we leave at the end of the novel is one that resonates. Determined, intelligent and rather resilient, Gemma makes you want to root for her happiness.  In taking the time to present Gemma’s childhood her character growth is given that much more weight in the story. We see the changes in her, and the story arc revolves around her changing views and circumstances.

Her ability to “dust herself off” each time she falls is a trait that is shown throughout the novel. Her tenacity makes her endearing and as such I enjoyed the novel much more as I felt invested in her outcome.

The romance is quite light, with Mr Sinclair being dashing, but not present very much. Those looking for an epic love story might be disappointed, but there is still some sweetness to be found in their coupling. The big secret that Mr Sinclair is hiding felt less shocking than that revealed in Jane Eyre, but it’s the outcome of that secret that plays a more important role in the second half of the novel. It just showcases that the romance is secondary to Gemma’s own journey of finding out where she can from and who she is today.

The second half of the novel is, for me, not as strong as the first. Gemma’s time with her Aunt, and subsequent shipping off to an all girls boarding school to be a working girl, were filled with wonderful moments that were character driven. The second half of the novel felt more plot driven. A few plot points felt out of character for Gemma. However, these two minor things did not distract from my enjoyment of the story.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy is many things, however, at the core it is a story about a girl becoming a woman. A tale of finding yourself, and ultimately taking flight and learning to soar. A few plot points I wish had been more full developed did not detract from a wonderful retelling that will appeal to even those who have not read Jane Eyre.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like such an amazing book, I'll definitely have to check it out! Thank you for sharing :) xxx


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