TLC Book Tour – The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Published:  2012 by Harper Perennial

Source:  Received from publisher for review

**** WARNING ****  The following comments may be taken as spoilers to some people.  I have made the assumption that readers are familiar with the basic premise of Jane Eyre, but if you haven’t read it yet what I’m about to discuss reveals some general plot points.

The similarities between The Flight of Gemma Hardy and Jane Eyre:

  • Both novels are books about orphaned girls who after the death of their beloved uncle are treated horribly by his family before being sent off to boarding school; at which the treatment is not much better.
  • After leaving the boarding school, both Gemma and Jane become governesses at a remote manor owned by a mysterious man who is not always present.
  • Both women meet said mystery man by chance before the opportunity to be formally introduced presents itself
  • Mystery man falls in love with the governess but just as they are about to wed a secret from his past is revealed, causing Gemma/Jane to flee the one place she has truly felt at home in her life.
  • During Gemma/Jane’s flight she learns about family members she did not know she had.
  • The novels have similar (though not completely alike) endings.
  • The descriptions of each novels’ landscapes are very vivid.

Ah, but then the differences!  For me these are why The Flight of Gemma Hardy was much easier for me to read and enjoy:

  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a shorter novel (I enjoy reading long novels, really, but it took me five times to finally make it through Jane Eyre a few years back)
  • Set in Scotland and partly in Iceland, Gemma travelled much farther from her uncle’s home than Jane could have ever imagined.  (Of course modern transportation methods greatly helped with this.)
  • For me, Gemma was a much more likeable character than Jane.  That’s not to say I didn’t like Jane; I just thought Gemma was a lot more feisty and interesting.  Again that may have something to do with the modern setting and I could relate to Gemma more.  I also found Mr. Sinclair to be much more likeable than Mr. Rochester.  Personally I could never see why anyone would like Mr. Rochester.
  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy had a wider range of entertaining supporting characters, including a homosexual couple (Would Charlotte Bronte even have imagined such a thing?), which added to my enjoyment.
  • Gemma Hardy is fascinated with birds from a young age.  A smarter person than me could probably make inferences about that (outside of the Flight part of the title) — is it her desire to be free like birds? 

You definitely don’t need to have read Jane Eyre to appreciate The Flight of Gemma Hardy.  Gemma Hardy’s story definitely stands on its own.  I wouldn’t call it a happy story, but it is interesting and a pleasure to read, despite its occasional sadness.  If you have read Jane Eyre, you probably can’t help but see the parallels between the two novels; as I displayed above, the stories are similar, but Margot Livesey creates a story that touches on the similarities but adds so much more.
Recommended.

For other thoughts on this novel check out the other stops on this tour.

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6 Responses to TLC Book Tour – The Flight of Gemma Hardy

  1. Judith says:

    Glad to see that you enjoyed this. I did, too. I didn’t remember a lot of the Jane Eyre story, just the basics. But whether you do or not, it’s a fun story. Only why do these young girls always fall for the older, unpleasant man?

  2. zibilee says:

    I would love to read this one, and have thought an awful lot about it since it first came out. I would consider Jane Eyre one of my favorite books, so I am really very curious about this one. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much, and I loved the style of this review!

  3. Pingback: Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, on tour June/July 2012 | TLC Book Tours

  4. It’s that “so much more” part that really intrigues me – I can’t wait to read this one!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  5. Leslie says:

    I read Jane Eyre when I was a twelve year old. As that was many decades ago, I’ve forgotten most of the detail so I’m glad to see this story stands on it’s own. I was hesitating on this one, but now that I read your review and also find that Gemma is fascinated with birds, it’s a definite for me.

  6. Melissa Mc says:

    I loved this…except the ending. But overall a good re-telling of Jane Eyre.

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