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A Familiar Story

By Jessie Christensen

Gemma HardyLast month I read a book that told the story of a girl who was orphaned at a young age, sent to live with a cruel aunt and cousins, then passed off to a dismal boarding school, before graduating and finding a job as a live-in nanny for a mysterious older man on a remote estate. She helps tame her wild, young charge and falls in love with her much older employer, but their plans for marriage are thwarted by the revelation of a dark secret that sends her running away again. No, I didn’t read Jane Eyre, though I have read it a few times before. This book was The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey, which retells the story of Jane Eyre and its themes of perseverance and self-reliance through the life of a young woman in Scotland during the 1950s and 1960s. I have read a number of books that pay homage to other books in various ways, some more successful than others. I enjoyed Gemma’s story and thought that it was mostly well-done—the writing was fluid and beautiful, the plot moved quickly and easily from incident to incident, and the relationship between the source material and this book were well-balanced.

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