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Companion to a classic
There is no disguising that “The Flight of Gemma Hardy” is a re-telling of the classic novel “Jane Eyre”; in fact, the author makes that clear before the reader even begins. There is also no doubt that our heroine Gemma is Margot Livesey’s own creation, a resilient character that I found likeable right from the start. Like Jane, her choices may not always be the wisest, but there is no whining, just determination to move forward. I was happy to travel along with her.
The characters, including the cruel aunt and the moody hero with a secret, the settings, including the dismal boarding school and the large stately home of Gemma’s employer, echo the original, and are all well-imagined; the storyline, though not as intense as the original, is just as absorbing. The 1960’s modern time frame is well-chosen. (I am not sure that this would work as well set in the age of the internet and cell phones with a GPS app, but I wouldn’t mind reading an attempt by some talented author.)
This may not turn out to be a new classic, but it certainly makes a worthy companion to Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre.”