I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
One of my favorite novels of all time is JANE EYRE. This is just something about it. Maybe it is the fact that it is a hard-luck tale of one intrepid little girl. Maybe it's the unlikely love story. Maybe it's the gothic style element of horror. It's a wonderful book. In THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY, Margot Livesey reenvisions the classic tale in a more contemporary setting.
Set in 1950s-60s Scotland, THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY follows young Gemma as she is taken from her native Iceland to Scotland by her uncle after the death of her widower father. All is well until the death of her beloved uncle when Gemma suddently find herself persona non grata in her aunt's home. Desperate to escape, Gemma agrees to become a scholarship student at a boarding school. Hardly more than an unpaid servant, Gemma works hard until the day the school goes bankrupt and she is forced to look for employment. She takes a job as an au pair in the Orkney Islands where she meets the enigmatic Mr. Sinclair. Their unlikely attraction sets loose a chain of events that will change Gemma's life forever.
This book really is almost scene for scene a retelling of JANE EYRE until the end. I really enjoyed the twist of Gemma's search for her past and her time in Iceland at the end of the book. I think it really added somethign to the story. However, I was disappointed that one of the major plot points in JANE EYRE was left out of this version. That definitely surprised me.
This book is incredibly readable and very entertaining although I'm not sure if I loved it for itself or because it reminded me so much of JANE EYRE. Sometimes, I think books of this kind work best when they simply nod to their predecessors rather than stick so closely to the original. Still, fans of the original will find much to like here.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A little TOO close to the original for my taste but entertaining nonetheless.