Wednesday, January 25, 2012

THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY: A REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

  GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY
BY MARGOT LIVESEY

ABOUT THE BOOK:
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.

PRAISE FOR THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY:
“In The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey offers a new telling of Jane Eyre, for which no contemporary writer is better suited. As always, Livesey's prose is a garden of pleasures: precision here, lyricism there, wit and compassionate insight throughout.”—Amy Bloom, author of Away and Where the God of Love Hangs Out

“Margot Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy is the portrait of a delicate, iron-willed girl, an orphan and a heroine in the grand tradition. The writing is at once wholehearted and razor sharp, but here as in all of Livesey’s novels, the real treasure is her gift for exploring the unreduced human psyche with all its radiant contradictions, mercurial insights, and desperate generosities.”  — David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Margot Livesey 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 shops and restaurants and learning to write. Her first book, a collection of stories called LEARNING BY HEART, was published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then Margot has published seven novels: HOMEWORK, CRIMINALS, THE MISSING WORLD, EVA MOVES THE FURNITURE, BANISHING VERONA and THE HOUSE ON FORTUNE STREET and THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY.

Margot has taught at Boston University, Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon, Cleveland State, Emerson College, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Tufts University, the University of California at Irvine, the Warren Wilson College MFA program for writers, and Williams College. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the N.E.A., the Massachusetts Artists' Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts. 

Margot is currently a distinguished writer in residence at Emerson College. She lives with her husband, a painter, in Cambridge, MA, and goes back to London and Scotland whenever she can. Alice Sebold says, "Every novel of Margot Livesey's is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery."

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW:
Critics have likened THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY by author Margot Livesey to be inspired by JANE EYRE. While there are several similarities, I read the book as I felt it should be read just as any other book. I found the basic story of Gemma Hardy to be not too different from many I have read over all including Cinderella, to really simplify things. However, it was Livesey’s treatment of this story that made the difference. Using the first person narrative to tell the story gives readers a different slant than say a lot of description from third person narrators may have.

I learned about the places and times of Gemma from her own words and deeds. Becoming an orphan and losing her beloved parents while living in Iceland, she becomes the charge of her aunt and uncle in Scotland. Gemma likes the uncle who seems to adore her but he also dies leaving Gemma with the evil step-mother, oops, which would be the aunt, I mean. Treated so poorly, the young girl is miserable and seems to have no place to turn. However, when she has the chance to go to a boarding school on a scholarship, she is overjoyed to be getting away. Of course, poor Gemma, once again finds things aren’t as she had hoped for in life, and she is there under the tutelage of a tyrant of a headmistress. When even this awful situation falls through, as the school goes out of business, Gemma, now eighteen, sees her freedom at last. But freedom is not free as Gemma finds and she takes a position as an au pair with an older man, Hugh Sinclair, who needs her services for his young niece, Nell. Gemma’s feelings for Sinclair and his in return take a surprising, or perhaps not, twist. Just when you think you know what will become of Gemma, things change suddenly again, and Gemma lives out what was for me the best part of her life, and the story overall.

While Gemma is well developed and an easy-to-like main character, the others are not. I do think had they been detailed more, these characters would have been easier to love or hate or that is, to care about at all. But overall, THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY is an interesting read and Margot Livesey is an author I would want to read more from.
 
GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO DANIELLE AND MY GOOD
FRIENDS AT HARPER COLLINS, I HAVE
ONE COPY OF THIS FASCINATING BOOK
TO GIVE AWAY TO A LUCKY READER
 
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
 

COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:


+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT YOU READ ABOVE ABOUT THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY THAT MADE YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT AUTHOR MARGOT LIVESEY ON THE "FUN STUFF" SECTION OF HARPER COLLINS WEBSITE ABOUT THE AUTHOR HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON A CURRENT GIVEAWAY THAT YOU HAVE ENTERED ON MY BLOG. IF YOU ENTERED MORE THAN ONE, YOU MAY COMMENT SEPARATELY FOR EACH TO RECEIVE MORE ENTRIES
 
GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, FEBRUARY 4
 GOOD LUCK!

155 comments:

Karen B said...

I like your comparison to Cinderella!
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debbie said...

I find it interesting that it is a updated take of Jane Eyre, yet, set in the 50 and 60's.
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Tore said...

I must have this book to read. It sounds very good. The things that this child goes through to have a happy life. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber. Tore923@aol.com

traveler said...

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Miss Jean said...

It caught my eye since it's set in Scotland.
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Miss Jean said...

It's interesting that the author's idea of a dream vacation would be the west coast of Scotland - same as mine!
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Sandra K321 said...

I think the setting of Scotland and Iceland are a draw for me, as well as the time period of the 50's and 60's.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

Sandra K321 said...

I love the comment on the Fun Stuff page: My most embarrassing moment was…
asking Martin Scorsese what he did for a living at a very dimly lit party.

That's something I would do.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

rubynreba said...

Gemma sounds like such an interesting girl and I think it would be fun to read about her.
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Tiffany Drew said...

I love books set in this era and books that take place in other countries because I love learning about them!

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Margie said...

This plot sounds interesting and I like the setting of Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s and '60s. Thanks for the giveaway.
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holdenj said...

Looks like a great, depth filled story and homage to a great novel! Thanks for the info and chance to win!
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holdenj said...

Margot's favorite drink is an apple martini and I have to say, I think I join her in checking out too many library books!
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Sue Farrell said...

The comparison of this book to Jane Eyre makes me want to read it.
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Sue Farrell said...

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Becky said...

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. Would love to read this one and discover the similarities:)

mamabunny13 said...

I think I will enjoy this book since I love Jane Eyre.
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Carol N Wong said...

I have always loved the story of Jane Eyre so I would to see what the author did with it.


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From her Fun Stuff, I see that the author was made to eat meat and now doesn't like it. I was made to eat pot roast when I was a kid and never did like it.

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Linda Kish said...

I liked your review and it makes me want to read more...Just when you think you know what will become of Gemma, things change suddenly again, and Gemma lives out what was for me the best part of her life, and the story overall. I have to find out what happens.

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Linda Kish said...

She says she takes out too many library books, but at least she remembers to return them

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