Listen along today at 5pm on WCHE 1520AM as Sam interviews Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy.
A captivating tale, set in Scotland in the early 1960s, that is both an homage to and a modern variation on the enduring classic Jane Eyre.
Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems 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 with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.
But Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin…a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery, that will lead her to a life she’s never dreamed of.
“It’s a delight to follow the careful dovetailing of the two novels—starting on the rainy day when both stories begin, with each heroine in a window seat, finding solace in the pages of an encyclopedia of birds…Livesey is a lovely, fluid writer. There’s much pleasure to be had in her descriptions of neolithic sites in Orkney and, most of all, her abiding affinity for the natural world.” — Sarah Towers, The New York Times Book Review
Margot Livesey grew up in a boys’ private school in the Scottish Highlands where her father taught, and her mother, Eva, was the school nurse. After taking a B.A. in English and philosophy at the University of York in England she spent most of her twenties working in shops and restaurants and learning to write. Her first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then Margot has published six novels: Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, Banishing Verona and The House on Fortune Street. Her seventh novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, will be published by HarperCollins in January 2012.
Margot has taught at Boston University, Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon, Cleveland State, Emerson College, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Tufts University, the University of California at Irvine, the Warren Wilson College MFA program for writers, and Williams College. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the N.E.A., the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts. Margot is currently a distinguished writer in residence at Emerson College. She lives with her husband, a painter, in Cambridge, MA, and goes back to London and Scotland whenever she can.
Alice Sebold says, “Every novel of Margot Livesey’s is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery.”