The Flight of Gemma Hardy (Paperback)
Harper Perennial, 9780062064233, 480pp.
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Fall '12 Reading Group List
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“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
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.
Praise For The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel…
“A cunning adaptation.”
“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.”
“Livesey delivers a suspenseful, curl-up-by-the-fire romance with a willfully determined protagonist who’s worthy of her literary role model.”
“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.”
“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….”
“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
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
“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.”
“In this modern day retelling of Jane Eyre - trade horses for private jets - novelist Margot Livesey pays homage to Brontë‘s literary classic.”
— Marie Claire, "Four New Page-Turners to Keep Bedside"
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- 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?