Monday, August 27, 2012

Go to the cows, Gemma. The cows will help you.

I wasn't the biggest fan of Jane Eyre.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a retelling of Jane Eyre.
I would have rather spent the time re-reading Jane Eyre. So, yeah...

So this is just Jane Eyre. Sort of a retelling. Actually, more like someone (in this case Livesey) took a detailed outline of Jane Eyre and then wrote a story based on that. Then nominally set it in the 1960s except not really. I mean the story claims to be from then but the style doesn't fit. The main character is surprised and sort of confused by the telephone. Like as an invention. And I GET IT, she's supposed to be poor and didn't have access to nice things. But she lived with her uncle and aunt who seemed to have enough money to have a phone in the late '50s/early '60s. And she went to a boarding school where maybe SHE wasn't allowed to use the phone, but it was a thing there. Or was Scotland really late to the whole "telephone" thing?

I like re-tellings of stories, even if the original story is something I'm not crazy about. But this isn't really a retelling. There's nothing new brought to the material. It's just Jane Eyre that is sometimes set in the '60s when the author remembers that's when it's supposed to be taking place. Oh and Gemma Hardy/Jane Eyre is originally from Iceland so you can plainly see this is an entirely different book and you should absolutely read this instead of just re-reading Jane Eyre. Grahme-Smith used entire passages from Pride and Prejudice when writing his book but that works as a retelling because he changed the story. By adding zombies. This could have really benefited from something supernatural. Or having Gemma act like a girl from the '60s and put a modern twist on things instead of randomly remembering that record players were a thing then, so we should mention them and OH, it's a whole new book!

To give the book some credit, I am not the intended audience. Maybe if you LOVE Jane Eyre and want moar. Moar. MOAR! this will be the perfect book for you. For me it was very, "Why am I doing this?"
To answer that question: The book was free and I don't like DNF-ing. Besides, finishing this means I can bitch about it here. Besides, it is a quick enough read. And when I bring a book with me on the train I don't have too many options other than "stare out the window" so I figured I may as well read it.

*Spoilers below. But about a really boring part of the book that should have been more interesting and failed. There, now if you don't read the stuff below, you know the gist.*
You know how in Jane Eyre the reason Jane can't/doesn't marry Rochester at first is cos of the whole secret crazy wife in the attic thing? You remember how that was an actual scandal? Livesey missed that part. There is no arsony secret wife. There is no secret wife or previous wife or anything. Which at first, when there was NO mention of fires or whatnot, I thought "It's fine. My problem with Rochester always stemmed with how Bertha was treated. Maybe I'll like this guy better." But we still need a scandal, something to drive Jane/Gemma away from Rochester/Sinclair so she can wander into the most boring part of the novel and find herself. The scandal here: more than 20 years earlier Mr. Sinclair and one of his friends/kids that worked at the family estate changed names for a couple years so Sinclair could join the RAF and convince his father he was brave. The other guy, Seamus, took Sinclair's place as a Bevin Boy working the mines and agreed to the switch because Sinclair offered up his sister Allison. Which at first does seem bad except in this case "offered up" equals "put in a good word for the guy, since Allison already likes Seamus, and also talk to his dad about what an awesome son-in-law Seamus would make". That is the scandal. That's it. Allison ended up dying due to a drug overdoes which would seem scandalous, except that the book says was not-at-all an effect of this arrangement. I'm pretty sure I mumbled "Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me. That is the scandal? That?" Maybe she tried to make Sinclair less of an ass than Rochester but she went so far the other way that I'm wondering why is this even a thing that was hidden. Or mattered at all?
*Seriously, how did she manage to make the most interesting part of Jane Eyre so boring? Anyway, spoilers contained*

Title quote from page 304. I picked it because it's such a ridiculous line and said so earnestly. It's like the voice from Field of Dreams coming to Gemma and telling her to go to the cows. The cows are the path to salvation. I'll stop now.

Livesey, Margot. The Flight of Gemma Hardy. HarperCollins, 2012. I received this in a giveaway