Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: "The Flight of Gemma Hardy," by Margot Livesey

About this book:
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 ass 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 ʼ60s, 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.

My thoughts:
As a fan of Jane Eyre, I was really anxious to read this more modern retelling, and I greatly enjoyed it. The Flight of Gemma Hardy is well-written and absorbing, and I found myself rooting for Gemma to overcome her sad circumstances and find joy in life. Yes, the story was a little depressing at times -- Gemma never seems to get a break, going from one difficult situation to another. But we know that Gemma is resilient and will eventually find her way. This is a coming-of-age story, in which we get to watch Gemma mature in wisdom and experience. Her struggles make her a stronger person, willing to fight for her place in the world, for her right to be “beloved and regarded,” as she’d always dreamed of.

Disclosure: I purchased this book myself. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

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