{Thirteen in 2013} The Flight of Gemma Hardy


My book pick for June was Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy.  I have a long list of books I'd like to read, and I'll add to it whenever I hear about a book that might sound interesting.  The thing is, sometimes it can take me a long time to get around to reading a book, and I'll forget why exactly I put it on the list.  The Flight of Gemma Hardy was one of those books.  I'm sure that at one point, I knew it was a reinterpretation of Jane Eyre, but by the time I started reading it, I had forgotten.  
Jane Eyre is one of my absolute favorite books, and I am sorry to say that I don't think The Flight of Gemma Hardy stood the comparison well.  Gemma was supposed to be a modern Jane, living in Scotland in the 1960s, but the book did not have a good sense of time (you only knew it was the 1960s because the narrator told you so, and some of the female characters occasionally wore pants), and so many of the key things about the original did not translate well to a more modern setting (the extreme cruelty of Jane's school, Jane's decision to become a governess, the relationship between the older Mr Rochester and young Jane, etc.).  I did like how this book spent longer developing Gemma's character as a young girl in school than Jane Eyre  did, but the major plot twist which ruins Jane's first chance at a happy ending was muddled in this book, and in the end, Gemma turned out to be just as flawed as her Mr Rochester, Mr Sinclair in this book.
So while I certainly liked the first half of this book, the second half just could not live up to the original.  Honestly, that's a tall order, because Jane Eyre is such a wonderful story.  The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a very interesting concept though, because it's interesting to imagine what a person like Jane Eyre would be like in modern times.  It certainly shows how much the world has changed!
Have you read The Flight of Gemma Hardy? What did you think?
xx

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