Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Inspired by Jane Eyre, Livesey (The House on Fortune Street) offers vibrant prose and a feisty heroine in her fascinating sixth novel, set in Scotland in the early 1960s. After 10-year-old Gemma Hardy's parents die, she is taken in by a kind uncle, much to his wife's dismay. When her uncle dies, the novel takes on shades of Cinderella as Gemma (who had been accepted by her cousins) is made into a scullery maid. Though her aunt attempts to break her down, Gemma works hard in school, earning a scholarship place at the Claypool boarding school. Again little more than a slave, Gemma learns how to survive among the working girls. When the school closes, Gemma takes a position in the Orkneys, where she will live at the estate of the mysterious Sinclair and look after his wild niece, Nell. She and Sinclair fall in love, but Sinclair has a secret that drives Gemma to change, as well as inspiring her to trace her Icelandic roots. Although guardian angels and kind strangers turn up like an army of deus ex machinas, these plot missteps don't detract from Gemma's self-possessed determination. Captivating and moving, this book is a wonderful addition to Livesey's body of work." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The resonant story of a young womans struggle to take charge of her own future, The Flight of Gemma Hardy
is a modern take on a classic story—Charlotte Brontës Jane Eyre
—that will fascinate readers of the Gothic original and fans of modern literary fiction alike, with its lyrical prose, robust characters, and abundant compassion. Set in early 1960s Scotland, this breakout novel from award-winning author Margot Livesey is a tale of determination and spirit that, like The Three Weissmanns of Westport
and A Thousand Acres
, spins an unforgettable new story from threads of our shared, still-living literary past.
“Gemma is real—its as simple as that. And through her eyes we see step by step what it means . . . to take possession of ones own life.” —David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
About the Author
Margot Livesey is the acclaimed author of the novels The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Livesey was born in Scotland and grew up on the edge of the Highlands. She lives in the Boston area and is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College.