Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/03/flight-of-gemma-hardy.html
The Flight of Gemma Hardy is billed as an homage to the classic Jane Eyre. I tried, however, to not read it in comparison, but just to enjoy the book for the story it tells.
Gemma is born in Iceland. After the death of her parents, she is taken in by her uncle. Upon her uncle's death, life takes a turn for the worse. Gemma struggles to find her place in the world. She ends up as a caretaker to a child. She falls in love, but learns some truths prior to her marriage that cause her to leave that situation. Ultimately, the book becomes a search for her own identity and a place to belong.
The book does take some elements from Jane Eyre, but then proceeds down a very different path. So, read the book for itself because it will certainly suffer in comparison.
As a story, I loved the first two-thirds of the book. The plight of Gemma as a child is one you hope never to see for a child. The characters, emotions, and situations felt real. Unfortunately, that was the high point of the book. It goes downhill from the point Gemma begins her relationship with Mr. Sinclair.
To me, the "shocking" revelation that causes Gemma to leave her groom seemed a bit of a let down. The book after that point seemed to lose its reality for me. The character of Gemma became less compelling and less likable. The ending seemed improbable and left too many loose ends. Overall, a good beginning but a disappointing end to a book.