Monday, September 9, 2013

Week One Discussion of The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Good Morning and welcome to Week one discussion of The Flight of Gemma Hardy.
Remember these questions aren't written in stone just a jumping off point so please add your own thoughts and comments where you like.
Also remember that Margot will be monitoring our conversation and joining in so if you have specific questions or things you would like verified just ask.

Let's get started

The Flight of Gemma Hardy
Week One
Parts I and II

Good morning all I simply can’t believe it’s already September where has this year gone?

We’ve gotten some background on Gemma, learned a few important details but it’s also obvious that Margot is saving some for later in the novel.
So let’s get going on the discussion.

First thoughts

Tell us your first thoughts on Gemma

Favorite co-star characters

Quotes in the novel
Have any stood out for you?

These should get you started, please remember to add you own thoughts and comments too

I’ll come back on Wednesday with another post


  1. Once again, I'm way behind. I'll join in later this week, Deb - sorry!!!

  2. Thank heavens for that Deb, because it will definitely be the end of the week at the earliest before I can be a contributing reader... Sorry about that!

  3. First Thoughts:

    I started this novel in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep thinking I would read just a few pages and then go back to bed. But, from the first page I was hooked. I was immediately wrapped up in Gemma's life and was struck by how poorly she was treated by her aunt and her cousins. My heart went out to her and I wanted to reach between the pages and save this young girl from being treated so poorly in her own home. I was captivated by Gemma's story and found that I didn't want to put the book down, saying to myself just one more page, one more page. Needless to say I didn't get much sleep that night. :)


  4. First Thoughts On Gemma:

    I was amazed at how strong Gemma was from the beginning of the book. She was such a young girl, but she was so much wiser than her age. She knew how poorly she was treated by her aunt and her cousins and knew the only way to make her life better was to get away from them as soon as she possibly could. When faced with the decision of whether or not to do well on the exams to get into Claypoole School, she followed her heart and did her best. She could not imagine writing down a wrong answer when she knew the right one. Even being so young, she was able to make life altering decisions on her own.


  5. Favorite Co-Star Characters:

    My favorite co-star character would have to be Miriam. She was the first person to reach out and befriend Gemma while she was at Claypoole. She offered to help Gemma study for her exams and became her best friend. She was the friend that Gemma had always dreamed she would have and it saddened me that because of their circumstances (Gemma being a working girl and Miriam being a paying student) that they were not allowed to be together as much as they would have wanted. It broke my heart when Miriam went to the hospital and Gemma thinks how everyone she had ever loved ended up dying. I wished things could have been different for the two of them.

    When Gemma first arrives at Claypoole, I couldn't imagine myself liking any of the other characters with the exception of Miriam or possibly Cook who started to notice how hard Gemma worked. After Gemma was attacked by the other working girls, I started to see a softer side to Matron who took care of Gemma and even lent her one of her books. When Gemma ran away to visit Miriam in the hospital, she meets Sister Cullen and I think that was her saving grace. She now had a friend on the outside who would offer her as much protection from her life at Claypoole as she possibly could and with the help of Dr. White, they could keep tabs on Gemma's situation.


  6. The character that surprised me the most was Miss Bryant. With the news that Claypoole was closing, I started to see another side to Miss Bryant and by the end of this section a part of me even started to like her. I felt like she started to appreciate the way Gemma always found a way to push on through life even at the roughest times and was determined to find a solution to her problems. She was even concerned that Gemma's aunt hadn't responded to her news that Claypoole was closing and offered to be a reference for Gemma's job hunt. I didn't think she'd even care what happened to Gemma, let alone try to help her.

    I found myself really wanting to like Ross through this whole section, hoping she would show a softer side and really befriend Gemma, but instead the more I read about her, the more I continued to dislike her. Every time I felt that there could be some redeeming quality to her, that she and Gemma could indeed be friends, she would show her meaner self again. I thought after she confessed to Gemma about running away from Claypoole, that that would become the beginning of her friendship with Gemma, but after Gemma and Miriam became friends, she turned mean towards Gemma. She seemed to protect Gemma in the beginning, but when she found out about Gemma and Miriam's friendship she became meaner than ever and let the other girls attack her. Finding out she was the one who called Matron to help that night only became more confusing to me. With Ross, nothing was black and white. She could like you one minute and hate you the next. You never knew where you stood.


    1. April, first How are you?
      Second what deep thoughts you put into this
      I'm always amazed by the depths my readers have when we open the pages of a book we're really opening our hearts to the characters.

      Gemma's story is one of those that I could read again and again and never tire of her perseverance and her heart

      Glad you're enjoying it and I hope you got some sleep :)

    2. I'm doing great. Everything's ready for the baby, the house is clean and now we're just waiting for the big day to finally arrive. Only twelve days left! I'll keep you posted! :)

      I'm really enjoying this read and am ready to start on the next section of reading. I'm curious where life will take Gemma next.


    3. I'm so glad all is well. I'm waiting for the news :)
      Thanks for your loyal support of my blog and my featured reads

  7. I am a little bit behind with the reading considering I started the book on Friday afternoon :) but I am almost done with the second part. I will do my best to catch up this week.

    I am glad I chatted with you on Friday Debbie and that I decided to pick up the book right after work. I really enjoy stories that take place in the '40s and the '50s and I like the setting of this book as well.

    First thoughts on Gemma...Extremely mature for her age. At times I forgot it was a 10 year old telling her story. But it's not unrealistic for someone her age to be so mature. Hardships make people grow up and mature a lot quicker than others and she definitely experienced a handful of those. But I admire her resilience and her capability for defense. At her age, most kids just crawl into a ball and start crying. She keeps her head high and fights and I admire her for this. It's hard to believe that anyone can treat a child as bad as Gemma's aunt treats her. But unfortunately we all know this happens way too often. It also broke my heart to read how lonely she was for Christmas the year after her uncle died. He was probably not only her only loving relative, but also her only friend. Losing him was like losing the most important thing left in her life and I can't wait to read forward and hopefully have Gemma in a better environment, one in which she is not entirely lonely.
    I got to read to the part where Gemma is in Claypoole and writes the letter to Mr. Donaldson (which never gets sent out). She is such a smart little girl but treated so poorly. It is beyond me why the entire school would take the word of Gemma's aunt without question and label her from the beginning as a liar and a thief. Its frustrating to see the labels that people get without them actually being given a chance to prove them wrong. The differences between the middle and lower classes are also striking. Not only does she have to work long hours but often times she has to or is forced to give up classes in order to keep up with the work or as a punishment. Lower class children are not given the same opportunity as the middle and upper class kids and this is made clear from the beginning: don't expect to be more than a servant once you come out of this school.

    I liked Mr. Donaldson. He is sort of a mysterious character. We don't know much about him except that he lives alone and that he is interested in Gemma's well-being. He knows that going to Claypoole is not what Gemma expects it to be and he does his best to help and warn her. His influence, however, is limited and the only thing that he can do is make Gemma feel that she has someone left to reach out to if things don't work out the ways she wants..

    There was a quote that I really liked. It's on the 4th page:
    "We each begin as an island, but we soon build bridges. Even the most solitary person has , perhaps without knowing it, a causeway, a cable, a line of stepping-stones, connecting him or her to others, allowing for the possibility of communication and affection." It's full of hope and meant to remind us that even when we feel we are entirely alone, there is a way and there surely is someone we can reach out to or connect with that will make us feel loved, appreciated or at least a part of a bigger community. It's a quote worth remembering.

    Looking forward to reading more...I have to take the train to New York City a couple of times this week so this would be a great thing to do during the one-hour trip :).


    1. Andreea, I'm so happy you could join in.
      For those who don't remember her Andreea is another convert from B& She's been absent a lot during the last year with school, work and life and I'm so happy to have her back in the fold.
      She actually specifically came looking for the monthly read too.

      Andreea great observation about Gemma's maturity. I think today that statement is more true than when Gemma was young but I also think that her life experiences have a lot to do with how fast she must grow up.

      I also like your quote.
      my favorite quote from part one was right in the beginning when Gemma was talking about mourning her uncle "To my childish fancy, the room mourned him in a way that no member of his family did..."

      Thanks Andreea and thanks !