Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

November 30, 2012

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
Adult Fiction
Adaptation of Jane Eyre
You might like this book if you like novels set in Great Britain, have read Jane Eyre, or like quirky romances.

My book group read this in November so I wanted to try and get my review up before the month actually ends.
It's essentially a modern-day take on the story found in Jane Eyre, one of the great books of the English Language.

My friend Mendy summed it up perfectly for me when she said, in her brilliant way, "I liked the story, but I didn't like it as a retelling of Jane Eyre." Exactly.

It's a fine book. Well paced, with good language and description and a nice sense of 1950's Scotland. It's an interesting story of an orphaned girl who makes good in the end. I liked it a lot.
For me, reading it as an analog of Jane Eyre, I couldn't help comparing. This one is missing the heart and soul of the classic tale, in that Jane Eyre never compromises on her ideals or her morals. For a second. That's my favorite part of Jane's story-her steadfastness in the face of trial after trial. Gemma compromises all the time. Sometimes she's downright dishonest and plays the victim a bit. Not Jane-like at all.

But maybe that's not fair. I would imagine the author is trying to modernize things a bit, I get that. Unfortunately,  in my mind at least, ideals and morals don't stand up that well to all the "modernization" we are trying to impose upon them. The sweetness of Jane Eyre's happy ending is dependent on the fact that she would not give up on herself and her understanding of right and wrong. In spite of not knowing exactly where she came from, she always knew her worth.

Gemma has some of that. She definitely has self-respect and determination, and her happy ending definitely is joyful and filled with promise for the future.

All in all a good read for the late-autumn, with romance, lost loves, secrets, crazy families, and everything else we love about an English novel.

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