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Publisher's Summary

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned, then neglected, young Gemma seemed destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path.
Now an independent young woman, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands. Blackbird Hall belongs to Mr. Hugh Sinclair, a London businessman; his eight-year-old niece is Gemma’s charge. Even before their first meeting, Gemma is, like everyone on the island, intrigued by Mr. Sinclair. An unlikely couple, the two are drawn to each other, but Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin… a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery will lead her to a life she’s never dreamed of.
©2012 Margot Livesey (P)2012 AudioGO
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Critic Reviews

“[An] original slant on a classic story…. Within the classic framework, Livesey molds a thoroughly modern character who learns to expect the best of herself and to forgive the missteps of others. The author has a gift for creating atmosphere.” ( Library Journal)
“The talented Livesey updates Jane Eyre…taking care to home in on the elements of this classic story that so resonate with readers…. Despite readers’ familiarity with the story line, they will be held rapt…. A sure bet for both book clubs and Bronte fans.” ( Booklist)
“[A] brilliantly paced contemporary adventure…” ( Elle)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Becky on 06-29-12

Dwindles down into a pile of boredom

This book started off well, but it had a pretty solid idea to build off of. Jane Eyre is a masterpiece for a reason, but Gemma Hardy is just... guh.

The first problem is the timeline. We're told that it takes place after WWII but I kept forgetting this, and really, I feel like the author did too. When something like a car or record player was mentioned, it was startling--"Oh yeah, this is in the 50s... or was it 60s?"

For a book supposedly about that time period, there were some strange elements. For example, the main character is ready to sleep with someone... but doesn't seem to have any conscious thought of consequences (I found myself wondering, Does she know what sex actually is?). We're told she was raised by a pastor; I would assume that pre-marital sex would have been a problem. Oh, of course, she doesn't really believe in God... convenient.

Then there are the characters, and their development. Gemma starts off strong, but becomes a sniveling baby that can't really do anything without help. Her romantic interest is pretty boring, and there's nothing memorable about him. It's rare to run into this kind of non-developed character, but it happens in this book. He has no personality or anything else; his main function is just to help move the plot along.

The girl that Gemma goes to teach, Nell, displays random acts of disturbing violence, but no one seems to really think about the implications of this, and (of course) at the end she somehow turns into a caring, lovely girl with good behavior. I just don't get it.

The St. John character is a complete disgrace and makes no sense.

Now, the crux of the book would be the relationship between Jane and Edward--but these two just don't work. Gemma runs away for a reason I can't fathom at all; after that, the book just fell flat, and I realized I didn't care. Everyone could die in the end, and I wouldn't care. To be blunt, these characters all suck. If you want a Jane Eyre story, read the original, and skip this pile of bunk.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Cecilia on 02-09-12

f you loved Jane Eyre, you will like this novel.

This story's plot and story line are not very original. Listeners will fairly quickly recognize that the author is recreating the story of Jane Eyre in 1950's and 1960's Scotland. That being said, I loved Jane Eyre and enjoyed this modern re-telling of the story with all the twists and turns that Gemma has to navigate. However, I was disappointed in the end as it was somewhat abrupt. Another chapter to fill out how life turned out for Gemma would have been more satisfying. Davina Porter's reading was, as usual, well done and pleasant to listen to with all of the different accents done quite nicely.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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