Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Taken in by her uncle after the drowning death of her widowed father, Gemma was three when she was torn from her idyllic life by the sea in a small fishing village in Iceland and removed to Scotland.  Though kind and generous, Gemma's uncle died when she was ten, leaving her with her cold, unloving aunt and spoiled cousins.  Packed off to Claypoole School as a scholarship student, Gemma became a working girl, barely finding time for lessons between preparing meals and scrubbing floors for the other students.  When the school closes just before Gemma can sit exams, she finds a job as an au pair in the Orkneys - the mysterious, handsome, and hugely wealthy Mr. Sinclair is looking for a governess for his niece, the precocious, incorrigible Nell.  Gemma feels as though she has at last found a home with Nell and Mr. Sinclair - but how long can it last?

This lovely, lonely novel is an homage to Jane Eyre, set against the barren, rocky beaches of the Orkney Islands and the volcanoes and geysers of Iceland instead of the haunting moors of Yorkshire.  Just as full of longing for love and family as the original, The Flight of Gemma Hardy follows a tough, iron-willed heroine on her quest for a home and into the deepest reaches of the human heart.