Friday, June 29, 2012
In a few hours I will be on an airplane. Right now I am debating which book(s) to bring with me. One is already in my carry-on bag: Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. I have intended to read it for so many years, and this must be the summer...all 1,400+ pages. The dilemma rests in the book I started last night: The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey. In many ways, it is an updated version of Jane Eyre. Gemma wonders if she has been cursed to experience so much loss and disregard. Mental toughness allows her to persevere in all things, and when her boarding school closes, she accept a position as an au pair on a remote Scottish island. It is there where she guides the instruction and well-being of young Nell, who has been left the charge of her uncle, Mr. Sinclair.
Being a puzzle lover, I could relate to Gemma's first method of luring her young pupil to her side:
"I cleared the largest of tables, chose a puzzle of Edinburgh Castle, and began to sort the edges." - p. 162
Her second trick is to bring out Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking:
"When I was Nell's age I had loved the story of the adventurous girl who slept with her feet on the pillow and could lift a horse over her head. I carried it down to the library, left the door ajar, and began to read aloud. I stopped after twenty minutes, when Pippi was making pancakes." - p. 166
Nell commands her to continue, and the two make a deal that involves reading aloud in exchange for lessons.
The dilemma, of course, is whether I should pack this book as well. I'm over half-done and would finish it before arriving at my destination, in which case I would just be lugging it back home again. I know there are surprises to come because of this line:
"Whereas I had scarcely a dozen who knew I was Gemma Hardy and no one who knew I had once been someone other than Gemma Hardy." - p.194