The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'd been looking for something to take me to another time and place, and this did it pretty well. Well, the time isn't so exotic - 1950s and 60s - but the place is Scotland, specifically the Orkney Islands which have long fascinated me, and Iceland. This has been called an homage to Jane Eyre, and I probably should have reread that first, but I knew the basic story - orphan girl becomes a governess (or the more current au pair) for a mysterious man with a secret. Chaos ensues.
All in all I'd say this is a very good book with some infuriating moments. First, it's got that first-person narration that I am really tired of. The main character, Gemma, was frustratingly stupid and naive at times, but I suppose that might be expected of an orphan with nasty relatives and a bad boarding school experience.
But the story was engaging and had me hiding from my kids to snatch bits of reading time. The ending was no surprise, of course. But it wasn't a satisfying ending simply because there were too many loose ends left undone. Gemma had left a few people behind in her flight, and I wanted to know what became of them - or rather, what became of her relationship with them. I suppose my desire to know what happened to all those other relationships means I was more engaged with the book than I had thought.
The scenes on the Orkneys reminded me of our visit to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, seven years ago. I loved that part of it. I doubt I will ever get someplace so remote again, but... maybe.
I'll be looking for more books by this author. But first I need to go read Jane Eyre.
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