The Flight of Gemma Hardy
by Margot Livesey
9780062064226, $25.99, HarperCollins
I’ve never read anything by Margot Livesey before, though she has published many novels, but this book caught my attention because it is a contemporary nod to Jane Eyre set in Iceland and Scotland. Sounds promising. Here is the publisher description:
When her widower father drowns at sea, ten-year-old Gemma Hardy is taken from her native Iceland to Scotland, to live with her uncle’s family. But the death of her doting guardian soon after leaves Gemma under the resentful eye of her aunt. When she receives a scholarship to a private school, Gemma believes she’s found the perfect solution, and she eagerly sets out again to a new home. Alas, at Claypoole she finds herself treated as an unpaid servant. To Gemma’s delight, the school finally goes bankrupt and she takes a job as an au pair on the Orkney Islands. The remote Blackbird Hall belongs to Mr. Sinclair, a London businessman; his eight-year-old niece is Gemma’s charge. Even before their first meeting Gemma is intrigued by Mr. Sinclair. Rich, single, flying in from London when he pleases, Hugh Sinclair fills the house with life. The unlikely pair are drawn to one another, but their courtship is cut short by Gemma’s discovery of a secret that has shadowed her employer’s life; soon after, she resolves to flee to mainland Scotland and vows to forget Mr. Sinclair. But as she rebuilds her life she wonders with increasing intensity whether she may still have a family in Iceland. As for her vow, that proves harder to keep than she imagines.