THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY

Margot Livesey

A captivating tale, set in Scotland in the early 1960s, that is both an homage to and a modern variation on the enduring classic Jane Eyre.

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future,

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A captivating tale, set in Scotland in the early 1960s, that is both an homage to and a modern variation on the enduring classic Jane Eyre.

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.

But Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin…a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery, that will lead her to a life she’s never dreamed of.

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  • Harper Perennial
  • Paperback
  • June 2012
  • 480 Pages
  • 9780062064233

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$15.99

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About Margot Livesey

Margot Livesey is the acclaimed author of the novels 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. Livesey was born in Scotland and grew up on the edge of the Highlands. She lives in the Boston area and is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College.

Praise

“A delight… Livesey is a lovely, fluid writer”Sarah Towers, New York Times Book Review

“A cunning adaption.”Liza Nelson, O, the Oprah Magazine

“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.”Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“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.”Atlantic Monthly

Discussion Questions

Did Gemma’s name take on new meanings for you in the course of reading the novel? What about the other names she uses at various points?

In the opening chapters, Gemma’s aunt is quite hardhearted, even cruel. Did your opinion of her change by the time you finished the novel?

In the opening chapters, Gemma’s aunt is quite hardhearted, even cruel. Did your opinion of her change by the time you finished the nove

How do you think the various landscapes that Gemma passes through help to change, or inform, her journey?

Gemma’s uncle is a devout Christian. Do you think Gemma minds losing her faith? Do her childhood values continue to govern her actions as she matures into adulthood?

Throughout the novel there are various supernatural occurrences. What is their significance to the story and how do they impact Gemma?

How do Gemma’s relationships with the various orphans she cares for deepen your understanding of her?

Gemma is at the mercy of chance but she also takes charge of her life and makes certain crucial decisions. How do you feel about those decisions?

What role do animals and birds play in Gemma’s life?

If you’ve read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, are there places in The Flight of Gemma Hardy where you find yourself remembering Jane particularly vividly? How do those memories impact your reading of Gemma?

Did The Flight of Gemma Hardy make you think of other orphan stories beyond Jane Eyre? Why are orphan stories so endlessly appealing?