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Margot Livesey Gives Us Her Eyre

By Maggie Hellwig in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 21, 2012 6:40PM

From Publisher's Website
Most authors would shy away from re-telling, or even writing a book resembling, a classic novel. The majority of the books that were on our high school and college reading lists remain untouched (unless you count several spins we've witnessed recently). When 2012 began, however, Scottish author Margot Livesey unleashed her bold re-visualization of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Come next Tuesday, in the friendly space of Women & Children First, we'll get to hear the author tell us all about it.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy closely resembles Bronte's classic tale of adversity and disquiet, but is set in mid-twentieth century Scotland. Gemma has just relocated after being orphaned at a young age. Her emotionally stunted aunt sends her to be a "working girl" at a boarding school, and she later becomes an au pair to continue her unappreciated disposition. Gemma struggles throughout the novel to find a person who understands her- a luxury that was stripped away when her Icelandic name was discarded at age three.

Whether you are familiar with Jane Eyre or not, Gemma Hardy is a delightful book with much less severity to it than Bronte's novel. Livesey's writing is very observant and airy despite the main character's dismal circumstances. The New York Times calls Livesey a "lovely, fluid writer." Even The Washington Post, with an admittedly less sparkling review, refers to her prose as "intelligent and graceful." Furthermore, while the novel does not refer to the modern feminist issues that the reader can relate to, it is written in Bronte's spirit of struggle and revelation.

Margot Livesey will do a reading and conduct a Q&A on February 28 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Women & Children First Bookstore is located at 5233 N. Clark Street.