Gemmy Hardy doesn’t remember having a home. Orphaned at a young age, Gemma is taken from Iceland to Scotland to be with her uncle. After forming a close bond with him he also passes on, leaving her in the care of an indifferent aunt. Her scholarship to a boarding school seems like a blessing, but doesn’t turn out that way. Along the way, Gemma maintains her dignity and self-worth, standing up to those who try to belittle her. This practice is noble, but doesn’t always work in her favor. When her dreadful school closes, she desperately grasps at a position in the Orkney Islands to be the au pair to the young niece of a Mr. Sinclair, a wealthy man with a secret. For the first time, Gemma is treated with respect, as an equal.
Sound familiar? In The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Livesey has taken on the challenge of writing a modern interpretation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Rewriting such a classic is a difficult undertaking and, except for a couple of small weak spots, Livesey has come through with shining colors. She follows the plot quite closely with adjustment for the setting of post-war Scotland. The true triumph, though is the feel of the book. We follow along as Gemma faces one difficulty after another and soldiers on. The book expresses perfectly a dark undercurrent of rootlessness without succumbing to despair. The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a beautiful story about the strength of the human spirit.