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The Flight of Gemma Hardy

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  15,028 ratings  ·  2,614 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-y ...more
Hardcover, 443 pages
Published January 24th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  15,028 ratings  ·  2,614 reviews

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Kerry Kilburn
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit
In her acknowledgements, Margot Livesey writes that her literary inspiration for this tale should be clear. I would argue that "inspiration" is too weak a word for the novel whose events are, with very few exceptions, scrupulously followed from start (the orphaned niece hiding behind the curtains reading a book about birds) to finish (reconciliation with the metaphorical lord of the manor). Because Gemma Hardy is retracing Jane Eyre's footsteps, reading this book became more an exercise in remem ...more
Elizabeth wrote in her review that the major point in this book’s favor is that it doesn’t skip over Jane Eyre’s childhood, unlike most other retellings generally do: mostly in order to get to the fun Gothic Rochester stuff. I think that that is the right way to approach this novel, it’s certainly what Livesey has the most to say about, and it is her strongest section. The atmosphere that she created for the book’s opening was entirely appropriate. Everything is hard, a little bit sharp, with a ...more
A family saga, an orphaned girl, a few plot surprises, a sweet story. A wonderful, compelling narrative. Scotland and Iceland: the strings of friendship and family weaving a bridge between two countries as well as a group of good people.

A relaxing, very good read.
Connie G
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gemma Hardy is an intelligent orphaned girl who is resented by her aunt and cousins. She is sent off to be a working girl at a boarding school. The beginning of the book is a retelling of "Jane Eyre" relocated to Scotland in the 1950s. As the book progresses, Gemma retains the spirit and fire of Jane, but her storyline does not follow "Jane Eyre" so closely.

Gemma is impoverished and alone in the world, and takes a position as an au pair on the Orkney Islands where she meets Mr Sinclair. While th
Jenny (Reading Envy)
One friend picked this book as her top read of 2015, and when I realized it was a cold weather island book and I had downloaded it on the Nook app during a sale, I decided to give it a try.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a more modern (but not contemporary) retelling of Jane Eyre, with a slight shift in location to Scottish islands and Iceland from the usual moors. Set in the 1960s, it doesn't often feel like the time period matters except for some of the tiny details about cultural shift (the rea
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Touted as a Jane Eyre cover this had about as much bite as Wayne Newton doing a cover of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by the Stones. Here’s the deal: the strength of Jane Eyre resided solely in the steeliness of Jane’s character which was surprisingly unsentimental. Despite her meager starting point she developed a strong sense of self putting one foot in front of the other and always moving forward; at no point did Bronte’s Jane ever present herself as a victim. Livesey’s Gemma is a handwringi ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: tbr-challenge
I have been waiting 450 pages to write a scathing review, and now that I'm here to destroy this, I kind of feel rather tired about the whole thing.

This is awful, and I'm not sure what was the most irritating. This is supposed to be 'inspired' by Jane Eyre, but is basically a rewrite set in the 1950s-60s. I'm going to use quotes around "modern" retelling, because frankly, it's shocking every time you hear someone reference a plane or television. Everyone speaks and acts as if they live down the r
Amy Lignor
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As all readers know, the beauty, tragedy, inspiration, and loveliness that came from the original Jane Eyre is something that many over the years have tried to imitate or duplicate. Seeing as that you would have to be a remarkable writer to even touch the magic that Charlotte Bronte created, all that can be said is that THIS is a remarkable writer. This contemporary retelling based loosely on the original is filled with characters that the reader will remember far into the future, perhaps with r ...more
originally appeared on:Bookshelf Confessions

I haven’t read Jane Eyre, yeah, I know, you can’t believe me. But I live in the Philippines, and we’re not required to study English Classic Literatures, except when you majored in it in college. So, I have nothing to compare “The Flight of Gemma Hardy” to.

Even though this book is a tribute to Bronte’s Jane Eyre, I find myself falling for this book’s charm alone. I don’t need to compare it with the original classic, because this one is not an old class
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
I became briefly obsessed with this book during the two days in which I devoured it. Originally I had it on my reading list in homage to my upcoming Scotland trip—little did I realize how much it would speak to my other upcoming trip to Iceland!

Silly me, I only realized at the end that this author also wrote Eva Moves the Furniture. I remember finding that on my mom’s bookshelf during high school and being really struck by it. So this great Scottish author strikes again!
Asheley T.
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(a similar version of this review can be found here at Into the Hall of Books:

THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY by Margot Livesey is a beautiful story that is reminiscent of Charlotte Bronte's classic JANE EYRE. Gemma is orphaned at a young age; both of her parents die in Iceland tragically while she is still very young. Gemma's Uncle, having made a promise to his sister, travels to Iceland to bring Gemma back to live in Scotland with him.

Under the care of her
Lacie Ernst
I'm giving this book 3.5 stars. This is a modern-day adaptation of Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books. This book follows the basic framework of the original. Having recently read Jane Eyre, it was easy for me to follow the storyline and "plug-in" the characters. Unfortunately for me, it was probably one of the reasons I didn't "love" this book. I wanted to like this book more, but my love of Jane's character got in the way and I couldn't separate her from Gemma. Gemma is interesting, but not en ...more
Jan 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Being obsessed with all things Jane Eyre, as soon as I found out that this book was a modernization/retelling, I knew I had to read it. Aaaand . . . it turned out to be a bit of a mixed experience for me.

Generally, the book follows the basic storyline of Jane Eyre fairly closely, and generally I approved of the ways that Livesey made the story her own. In fact, if it wasn’t for a bit in the middle, I think I could’ve fallen in love with this book and the way Livesey stayed true to the spirit of
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
In one of my college essay drafts I made a metaphor comparing myself to Jane Eyre; I liked it, but I don't think my AP English Language teacher appreciated my line that went "one day, I will find my Mr. Rochester too." I just loved Jane Eyre. Out of all of the classics I've read, it probably possesses the protagonist I relate to the most. I suppose it's fitting then that the first retelling I read is one of, you guessed it, Jane Eyre.

Gemma is an orphan. First her parents passed away, then her ca
Diane S ☔
Oct 07, 2011 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more than I did, and for more than the first half I did. Her writing is wonderful, her descriptions of the birds and scenery was wonderful. Parallels to Jane Eyre, especially in the beginning were certainly there, though the atmosphere was not quite as dark. She loses me when on the island Gemma, leaves Mr. Sinclair before marrying him, for a rather what I thought was really nothing, anyway I couldn't get over that, it made me not take the rest of the book as seriously as I ...more
Jen Meegan
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This is the second modern reworking of Jane Eyre I've read and I have the same comment here as I did in my review of that previous novel: Jane Eyre is a product of its time and therefore, near impossible to rewrite in a modern setting without losing something in translation. All of the things that made JE such a heady romance for 1840s Britain are the very same things that simply don't work in a modern setting. In "The Flight of Gemma Hardy", the author at least attempts to retain some of the or ...more
Jenny Q
Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
According to the author, this novel was strongly influenced by her passion for Jane Eyre and her desire "to recast Jane's journey to fit her own courageous heroine and the possibilities of her time and place." It's been a long time since I read Jane Eyre, but I don't remember it playing out like The Flight of Gemma Hardy does.

When Gemma's parents die, she's taken into her uncle's home as a young child. Her uncle dotes on her, educates her, and treats her as an equal member of the family. This ca
Retired Reader
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I want to read more by this author!
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
The first line of this novel -- We did not go for a walk on the first day of the year. -- echoes that of Charlotte Brontë's classic Jane Eyre -- There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. However, while Livesey's take echoes and mirrors the classic, she has also created an original and appealing heroine that I fell in love with and wanted to have as a friend.

Gemma, like Jane, finds herself an unloved and unwanted outsider in her aunt's home after her beloved uncle dies. Desperate only
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an homage to Jane Eyre set in Scotland in the 1960's. The difference in the times makes Gemma's journey less sad than Jane's but she still had a difficult time. Jane was orphaned at a young age and her uncle took her in. Life was good until he died and her aunt and cousins turned on her. She was farmed out to a boarding school as a "scholarship" student which meant she worked for education and boarding. She was 10.
After the school closes, she finds the dream job for her- governess for a
Nancy Kennedy
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Love Jane Eyre in the original, not in this remake. The similarities between the two stories are so numerous and so deliberate, it makes me wonder: Where is the line between an homage and outright plagiarism?
Because the plot lines were so similar, I just kept noting that fact, rather than immersing myself in this supposedly new story.

I stuck with the story for about half the book, and now I've just lost interest. The so-called love scenes between Mr. Sinclair and Gemma are so clumsy as to be la
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a combination between Cinderella, Jane Eyre and some of the Victoria Holts featuring governesses that I read many, many, many moons ago. We started with Cinderella (Gemma) living in a household with her Wicked Stepmother (Aunt Edna) and the Ugly Stepsisters/brother (cousins Louise, Veronica and Will). When she is 11 years old, Cinderella escapes from them by becoming Jane Eyre, where her main function at the school is not to study, but to be part of the household help, with lessons comi ...more
Marcy Dermansky
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I discovered this book in a beach house and so, I read this book on the beach. And did not stop reading. I loved this retelling of Jane Eyre. I wish I had not read it so quickly.
Sarah Wagner
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel is a retelling of Jane Eyre largely set in the 1960s Scotland, so of course I loved it. Gemma Hardy starts out as an orphan who is not well liked by her aunt and cousins, is sent away to a boarding school, becomes a nanny to a mysterious family, and promptly falls in love with her handsome employer. Aspects of the tale have been updated - there's no crazy wife in the attic - and other pieces of the story have been moved around, but this novel evokes many of the things I love about the ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Oct 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
If you have ever wanted to read "Jane Eyre" without suffering through the prose of Charlotte Bronte, this might be the book for you. (Or it might not. Stripped of the prose of Charlotte Bronte, "Jane Eyre" can be a pretty ridiculous story. Stripped of Jane herself, it is worse.)

This book was suggested to me as a modern retelling of "Jane Eyre". I did not expect it to be a step-by-step translation, but before I was 20 pages in, I had reread the argument between Jane and her cousin in her dead unc
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a completely satisfactory book. Just not a stand-out.

I must admit I went into this book with low expectations, but it had been recommended in so many recent book lists, magazines and blogs that when I saw the book CDs at the library, I pounced. (Especially since, in my library, getting a book CD that is less than 10 years old is a minor miracle.) Anyway, all of these referrals compared it to "Jane Eyre" which is a book I have never read, and don't really want to, but which comparison, I
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Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Book #1 - The Flight of Gemma Hardy 1 4 Jan 04, 2013 11:11AM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN:9780062064226 2 148 Apr 16, 2012 10:52AM  

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Margot grew up in a boys' private school in the Scottish Highlands where her father taught, and her mother, Eva, was the school nurse. After taking a B.A. in English and philosophy at the University of York in England she spent most of her twenties working in restaurants and learning to write. Her first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was published in Canada in 1986. Since ...more

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