Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Review -- The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma HardyThe Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
My enjoyment rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Book source:  Public library
Genre:  Literary fiction
Objectionable material: none


Jane Eyre – poor orphaned girl, living with uncaring relatives, shipped off to a miserable boarding school, her best friend dies, eventually finds a position as a governess, meets Mr. Rochester, leaves Mr. Rochester, finds Mr. Rochester again.

In The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey’s re-telling of Jane Eyre, Gemma travels much the same road – however one paved with asphalt: – poor orphaned girl from Iceland, living with uncaring relatives in Scotland, shipped off to a miserable boarding school, her best friend dies, eventually finds a position as a teacher at Blackbird Hall, meets Mr. Sinclair, leaves Mr. Sinclair, wanders Scotland, finds her remaining family in Iceland, meets Mr. Sinclair again.

I loved Jane Eyre – and I loved Gemma Hardy: her story is as tragic and bleak and moody as the original. It is epic as Gemma traverses what seems the whole of Scotland, finding those who abandon her as well has save her. Ms. Livesey’s descriptions are vivid and stark, and although I’ve never stepped foot in Scotland or Iceland, I felt like I’d crossed through every town and village with Gemma.

I loved Jane Eyre until the very last page. I loved Gemma Hardy until – the end crashed and burned. The reunion one would expect, considering how closely Ms. Livesey’s follows the Jane Eyre formula, was shortened to 2 pages and ended on an airplane. I felt robbed! Cheated! It was such a great story that I could have read for another 40-50 pages!

So disappointed.