Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Margot Livesey. 2012. HarperCollins. 447 pages.

We did not go for a walk on the first day of the year. 

Have you read this "modern" retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre? If you have, I'd love to know what you thought of it.

Personally, I was disappointed with it. Don't get me wrong, I am glad I read it. It was a risk worth taking--at the library, at least! Because a book like this definitely has potential. The description alone is enough to make one curious. A modern Jane Eyre set in the 1960s in Scotland and Iceland.

I do think this will be a hit or miss book though. For me it was a miss mainly because I did NOT feel the romance or connection between Gemma Hardy and Mr. Sinclair, her employer.

I'll be honest, the book had a chance with me up until the big reveal. After the big reveal that was anything but big--you'll just have to trust me, it was a flop, but I don't want to spoil the book in my review--the book just continued to go downhill.

To focus on the positive, this book did start strong. The time spent with Gemma as a child--the time spent with her aunt and mean cousins, the time spent at boarding school, her making her first 'best' friend, etc--was time well spent. (Some time is also spent with her memories of her uncle and what little she knew about her parents.) Initially I thought the book would be one I'd like. I couldn't wait for her to meet her employer; I wanted the romance to begin. But I kept waiting and waiting and waiting, and I never once felt any magic between Gemma and Mr. Sinclair. The very thing that makes Jane Eyre oh-so-magical, oh-so-perfect, was missing in The Flight of Gemma Hardy. The romance is in the small things, the small details, the conversations between the two, the scenes between the two.

Gemma was NOT by any stretch of imagination as engaging as Jane. She just wasn't. I wasn't able to live in her head like I am able to live in Jane's. I wasn't able to make a strong, emotional attachment to Gemma. There were a couple of scenes that are convincing or believable in Jane Eyre that just AREN'T convincing or believable in The Flight of Gemma Hardy. 

I am a bit surprised that The Flight of Gemma Hardy didn't work for me. I wanted to like it at least as much as Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin. (I was very surprised at how much Jane Slayre worked for me. She got many things right in that adaptation!) 

Read The Flight of Gemma Hardy
  • If you are curious about how Jane Eyre can be modernized and adapted. You may not like it or love it, but sometimes you just have to see for yourself and give it a try. (I do recommend the library for this, or waiting until it's available in paperback).
  • If you are a forgiving fan of Jane Eyre who is oh-so-eager to have more Jane that you're willing to see the plot and characters played around with. For those who love, love, love, absolutely love the original and who are quick to find fault with movie adaptations of the novel, this might not be for you.
  • If you have never read Jane Eyre and are not likely to ever read Jane Eyre because you're intimidated because it's a classic, and yet you're hesitant to try Jane Slayre because you don't like paranormal fiction, but you're still wanting to know what Jane Eyre is all about...then this one may be worth your time.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

I have this and am looking forward to seeing what I think after reading Jane Eyre last year.

Amber at The Musings of ALMYBNENR said...

I'm sorry it was a miss for you. This book was just brought to my attention the other day.

Hit OR miss, it's perfect to add in my 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge if you're participating!

The Musings of ALMYBNENR

Stephanie Carroll said...

I'm currently trying to read Margot Livesey's Eva Moves the Furniture and I really want to read it because I write historical women's fiction that is very similar to hers (subject wise) but I have been having such a difficult time getting into the book. I'm not sure if I will ever get to this one. Did you read any of her other books and if so what did you think?

Anna said...

I was so excited about this one...and then I started reading the reviews. When I heard that the Rochester character was like cardboard and his secret wasn't all that exciting, I brought it back to the library unread.

You've made me want to check out Jane Slayre though!

Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

I am going through some ERC reviews. Sorry, but I have lost track of whether you finished the European Reading Challenge or not. There is a Wrap Up page available, so if you do a wrap up post, please add your link on the page.