Sunday, February 5, 2012

"The Flight of Gemma Hardy"

Margot Livesey's first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then she has published seven novels, including: Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, Banishing Verona, and The House on Fortune Street.

Livesey applied the Page 69 Test to The Flight of Gemma Hardy, her latest novel, and reported the following:
On p. 69 of Jane Eyre, Jane, who has become a teacher at Lowood School, advertises for a situation as a governess which of course leads to her going to Thornfield Hall and meeting Mr. Rochester.

On p. 69 of my novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, in which I write back to Jane Eyre, my heroine Gemma has just arrived at Claypoole School, my Scottish equivalent of Lowood, and is arguing with the minister about the interpretation of the parable of the talents. The scene shows Gemma in some characteristic ways - she has large feelings, she is not afraid to stand up for what she believes and she cannot bear mendacity. It also, I hope, captures some of the atmosphere of a small private school like the one I attended at Gemma's age. My school was set in a large country house and the grounds were surrounded by a high wall. For the most part no-one came or went without permission.

But my novel is a journey and the school is only one of the several worlds that Gemma inhabits. She grows up, much more quickly than I did, and is forced to earn her own living which leads to adventures good and bad.
Learn more about the book and author at Margot Livesey's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue