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The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Cover of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

A Novel
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The resonant story of a young woman's struggle to take charge of her own future, The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a modern take on a classic story—Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre—that will fascinate readers of the Gothic original and fans of modern literary fiction alike, with its lyrical prose, robust characters, and abundant compassion. Set in early 1960s Scotland, this breakout novel from award-winning author Margot Livesey is a tale of determination and spirit that, like The Three Weissmanns of Westport and A Thousand Acres, spins an unforgettable new story from threads of our shared, still-living literary past.

"Gemma is real—it's as simple as that. And through her eyes we see step by step what it means . . . to take possession of one's own life." —David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The resonant story of a young woman's struggle to take charge of her own future, The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a modern take on a classic story—Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre—that will fascinate readers of the Gothic original and fans of modern literary fiction alike, with its lyrical prose, robust characters, and abundant compassion. Set in early 1960s Scotland, this breakout novel from award-winning author Margot Livesey is a tale of determination and spirit that, like The Three Weissmanns of Westport and A Thousand Acres, spins an unforgettable new story from threads of our shared, still-living literary past.

"Gemma is real—it's as simple as that. And through her eyes we see step by step what it means . . . to take possession of one's own life." —David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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About the Author-
  • MARGOT LIVESEY is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Flight of Gemma Hardy, The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, and the Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Born in Scotland, Livesey currently lives in the Boston area and is a professor of fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 10, 2011
    Inspired by Jane Eyre, Livesey (The House on Fortune Street) offers vibrant prose and a feisty heroine in her fascinating sixth novel, set in Scotland in the early 1960s. After 10-year-old Gemma Hardy’s parents die, she is taken in by a kind uncle, much to his wife’s dismay. When her uncle dies, the novel takes on shades of Cinderella as Gemma (who had been accepted by her cousins) is made into a scullery maid. Though her aunt attempts to break her down, Gemma works hard in school, earning a scholarship place at the Claypool boarding school. Again little more than a slave, Gemma learns how to survive among the working girls. When the school closes, Gemma takes a position in the Orkneys, where she will live at the estate of the mysterious Sinclair and look after his wild niece, Nell. She and Sinclair fall in love, but Sinclair has a secret that drives Gemma to change, as well as inspiring her to trace her Icelandic roots. Although guardian angels and kind strangers turn up like an army of deus ex machinas, these plot missteps don’t detract from Gemma’s self-possessed determination. Captivating and moving, this book is a wonderful addition to Livesey’s body of work.

  • Sarah Towers, New York Times Book Review

    "A delight....Livesey is a lovely, fluid writer."

  • Liza Nelson, O, the Oprah Magazine

    "A cunning adaptation."

  • Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

    "Absorbing....Ms. Livesey writes lovely, understated prose...[her] treks through the novel's pleasing natural landscapes...are almost as engaging as her navigation of Gemma's restless psyche."

  • People

    "Livesey delivers a suspenseful, curl-up-by-the-fire romance with a willfully determined protagonist who's worthy of her literary role model."

  • Connie Ogle, Miami Herald

    "Jane Eyre gets a terrific modern makeover....Livesey works some sort of magic in The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which is too entertaining to be superfluous, too wise in its understanding of human nature to be a mere retread."

  • Meredith Maran, Boston Globe

    "Livesey has pulled off the near-impossible task that the homage begs an author to do: create an original, fresh work that shines in its own light, while bringing an established, esteemed work to the attention of new readers, and showing off previously unseen facets to its fans...."

  • Atlantic Monthly

    "Livesey follows Brontë's form, but so convincingly does she create her own character's life and surroundings that the original soon recedes, its story a beloved, familiar body dressed in an entirely new and vibrant wardrobe."

  • Kristin Ohlson, Cleveland Plain Dealer

    "Marvelous....Gemma Hardy is one of those page turners in which you occasionally have to wrest yourself away from the plot to admire the language."

  • Lisa Shea, Elle

    "A brilliantly paced contemporary adventure about a headstrong orphan's struggle to claim a place for her generous heart in a secret-laden, sometimes loveless world."

  • Publishers Weekly, starred review

    "Inspired by Jane Eyre, Livesey (The House on Fortune Street) offers vibrant prose and a feisty heroine in her fascinating sixth novel.... Captivating and moving, this book is a wonderful addition to Livesey's body of work."

  • David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

    "The portrait of a delicate, iron-willed girl, an orphan and a heroine in the grand tradition.... 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."

  • Marie Claire, "Four New Page-Turners to Keep Bedside"

    "In this modern day retelling of Jane Eyre - trade horses for private jets - novelist Margot Livesey pays homage to Brontë's literary classic."

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    HarperCollins
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