The Flight of Gemma Hardy – Margot Livesey
Genre: Fiction; Updated Classic
Summary: The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a modern retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre. Orphan Gemma is sent to live with her uncle and aunt in Scotland . While Gemma is the apple of her uncle’s eye, her aunt and cousins hate her, and after her uncle’s death, they treat her very poorly. Eventually she is shipped off to boarding school, and while she hopes for a better life, she only faces more obstacles. Will Gemma ever catch a break?
Review: I know I’ve expounded on my love for Jane Eyre before, so I won’t do that again (Oh, Charlotte Bronte, you and your novel are magnificent! …what? I had to say something!). Whenever I hear about a re-telling of Jane Eyre, I get nervous and excited, but it always end up on my tbr pile. The Flight of Gemma Hardy was an exceptionally well-done retelling of my favorite book, and I was completely absorbed from start to finish.
In my opinion, one of the best things about this book was the fact that it followed Jane Eyre so closely. Even though the two novels were set in different times and places, touches of Bronte’s original work could be found on every page, and it absolutely delighted me. I found it really interesting that Livesey decided to have Gemma move to Scotland from Iceland. Iceland isn’t really a place I encounter a lot in the literature I read, so it was really fun to get a new setting to explore. In fact, the part where Gemma was in Iceland may have been my favorite part of the entire book.
In addition to being interesting, this book also had beautiful, lyrical language. The sentences flowed together effortlessly, and it was truly a joy to read The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Of particular note were the wonderful descriptions of the various landscapes, all of which were really well done.
I also really liked the main character, Gemma. Like Jane, Gemma was strong and determined, and I enjoyed that she could be really stubborn about things. It was also great that Gemma wasn’t portrayed as perfect; she made missteps along the way, some much greater than others, and it served to make her relate-able to the reader.
If you’re a Jane Eyre fan, definitely read The Flight of Gemma Hardy.
Read-alikes: Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte, Jane – April Linder