Tag Archives: Charlotte Bronte

Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

   Gemma Hardy is no doubt the modern day Jane Eyre of our time. Orphaned at a young age and brought from her native land of Iceland to be taken in by her Uncle and his own small but prosperous family, Gemma grew up in a relatively loving environment until the untimely death of said Uncle. Upon his demise Gemma’s life became one of unhappiness and abuse at the hands of a jealous Aunt and cruel cousins.

 Eventually the young girl was tossed away to a boarding school where she was all but a servant, still the ever resilient child showed herself to be composed of more than many ever believed her to be. Surviving the desperate conditions of Claypoole School and the death of a dear friend, Gemma perseveres to attain her education and seek employment beyond the walls of the institution once she has become of age.

 Enter this novel’s tragic hero and possible tragic flaw: Mr. Sinclair who just happens to be the guardian of a young girl named Nell in need of a governess.

 Sound familiar? It should. Touted as the contemporary Jane Eyre of our time, Margot Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy has been promoted in such as way as to create enormously large literary shoes that claim to have been filled before the first pages were even lightly turned by the majority of everyday readers.

 However all is not as well written, as it may seem or as it has been advertised.

 The modern day Mr. Rochester’s secret lacks power much as the romance between him and Gemma lacks spark and magnetism. While one of the hallmarks of Jane Eyre is a detached sense of emotion, it also a raging sense of passion that ignites between her and her lover that make the novel what it is and is celebrated for being. That bond makes the novel and unfortunately is missing in this newest interpretation. In this department the relationship and interactions between Gemma and Mr. Sinclair pale in comparison and ultimately fall devastatingly short.

 Nevertheless the experience of losing all hope of love and affection at such a young age only to grow up and possibly find it in the most unlikely of places; is a great one. It also makes for a great story no matter the time in which it is written. Gemma’s ongoing search for love and family among the wilds of Iceland lend nicely to taking on some originality beyond the barest of modernizations. The story of Gemma Hardy is one with small caches of originality mixed with an undeniable blue print of one of the most celebrated pieces of literature ever written. It also is a testament to the writer’s talent for inspiration and re-invention. Incidentally it is also impossible to put down.

 In the end the book while it cannot be said to be anything less than a reasonably well written piece of literature it also manages to more than anything shine a light on Charlotte Bronte’s true masterpiece as not only the gem that it is but also as a work of inspiration for writers of today and the future.


Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature, Literature Resources, New Books

Giveaway: Jane Eyre 2011 Prize Pack

Today is the day. Those of you who follow Stiletto Storytime know I am a devoted Janeite. I love Jane Austen. She is no doubt my favorite author. However I am also a devoted Janeite of a different type. My favorite novel of all time just happens to be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. As I have said before Jane Eyre is like comfort food to me. It is my go-to book when I am under the weather or in need of a safe haven within the pages of a book. I read it multiple times a year and watch my favorite adaptations quite frequently. I feel almost as adamantly about my favorite Mr. Rochester (Ciaran Hinds) as I do about my favorite Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). However one must wonder will that change as we usher in the newest Mr. Rochester?  Only time shall tell….

Taking all this into consideration you can imagine how excited I am about today being the release date for the latest Jane Eyre movie adaptation. This newest take on the classic from Focus Features hits select theatres today March 11, 2011. For show times, trailers, cast information and a fantastic trip sweepstakes you can go to the film’s website or visit their Facebook Page. There is also a JANE EYRE GoodReads Challenge afoot and a new Reading Guide from the 2011 Film.

Want an early review and sneak peek from a Bronte expert? Check out The Jane Austen Blog which is hosting author Syrie James with her review of the new film.

Prize Pack Giveaway

And now for some real Jane Eyre excitement. Thanks to Focus Features two Stiletto Storytime readers will be winning a fantastic Jane Eyre 2011 Prize Pack including: a Soundtrack Sampler, Book Mark, Journal, Pencil and a copy of the Movie Tie-In version of Jane Eyre.

Giveaway ends midnight EST March 25, 2011. US and Canada addresses only please. Winners will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Winners have 48 hours to respond to e-mail before new winners will be chosen.

To enter simply leave a comment below and share an experience with Jane Eyre. Are you newbie, a devoted fan or just interested in getting in on the giveaway action?  Do you have a special memory for this book? When and where did you first experience it? If you have seen the new film please share your opinion. We would love to know what you thought. Really just share anything about you and the eternal classic that is Jane Eyre.

Want extra entries? No need to write a separate comment for each. Just list them all in one comment please to make it as simple as possible for everyone to enter.

You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower or Subscriber of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Sign up for The Classics Challenge 2011 (Those already signed up will be automatically entered.)

If you post a  review for The Classics Challenge 2011 by midnight March 25th, 2011 EST you will automatically be given 5 extra entries for each review posted by that date. Your reviews must be recent posts meaning posted since the challenge began in January 2011. Please read over the guidelines for The Classics Challenge for any lingering questions.

~Good Luck to all….Happy Reading and Watching! In my opinion you can never have too much Jane Eyre! ~


Filed under Classic Literature, Contests, Events, Movies

Review: Romancing Miss Bronte

https://i0.wp.com/www.southernsavers.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/romancing-miss-bronte.jpg As a reviewer I truly believe one of the hardest tasks a writer can undertake is to tell a story that readers already know the ending of.  It takes skill and talent to keep someone enthralled by a tale that they know will end badly.  Thus the story of the Bronte siblings is especially hard because of their tragic and cruel fates for such talented writers so ahead of their time. However Juliet Gael not only has taken on the challenge but also succeeded in doing a decent job of making it an interesting and inventive narrative.

In Gael’s Romancing Miss Bronte, we receive an intimate look into the life of Charlotte Bronte including her family, short lived romance and of course the writing of Jane Eyre.  Focusing on the courtship of Charlotte by her father’s curate Arthur Nicholls, Gale also manages to weave a tale of the Bronte’s sisters secretly published works and everyday familial life.  While the book is interesting in the way that it makes Charlotte a character and a woman, it sometimes lacks the spark of life and can read more like a highly researched biographical piece.  Somehow the characters lack fire at times and the deaths of the siblings is detailed in a very offhand manner missing the true experience of ache and longing Charlotte must have surely felt.

However a redeeming factor in the book is the narrative of the struggle Charlotte Bronte made in whether or not to accept romance in her life.  After writing one of the best love stories in literary history could she really settle for such polite affections and a less than advantageous marriage?  This inner turmoil and the outer disagreement with her father to the match create a lively and engrossing narrative not seen in the early chapters.   It is redeeming for the book and makes the ending of much greater emotional interest to the reader.

Romancing Miss Bronte while not exhibiting the emotion expected of a biographical fiction of the Brontes still manages to weave a creative narrative that any Bronte fan will enjoy and want to eagerly read. The book also will educate many readers and fans on the finer points of the lives of the Bronte siblings, which are not common knowledge. All in all Gael has presented a fine read for literary enthusiasts and Bronte fans alike.

And now for a personal confession while I myself am a dedicated Jane Austen fan, she is my most beloved author of all time….my most beloved book is Jane Eyre. I read it at least twice a year, it’s like a comforting friend to me. Perhaps that is why I was so critical of this work. I had very high expectations and I am protective of both dear Charlotte and her works.

For more information on the Bronte siblings and all things Bronte, I recommend The Bronte Blog, a wonderful site that keeps up with the latest news and works connected to Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte.


Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature, historical fiction, New Books

Review: The Foundling by Charlotte Bronte

When one thinks of fairy tales…one might not automatically think of Charlotte Bronte or even the illustrious Bronte sisters at all. However at a very young age the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell created many worlds of their own in which imaginative characters and unbelievable places abounded. Many of these stories began with the simple imaginings of a group of toy soldiers. With villains by the name of Naughty and Pigtail….The Foundling is one such of the many stories they created. Charlotte Bronte wrote The Foundling at the tender age of seventeen. It’s setting Verdopolis and mixture of wild and mildly harmless characters creates a world similar to that in Gulliver’s Travels in my mind. Introduce a love story, a mysterious orphan with obvious royal parentage and one has a fairy tale worthy of any I have ever been honored to read. While often overlooked The Foundling is yet another testament to the imagination and talent of the Bronte sisters. Next on my list is The Green Dwarf, yet another often neglected Charlotte Bronte work. I must confess Jane Eyre remains to this day my comfort book, a book I go to numerous times a year to re-read. It makes me feel safe, comfortable and at home but Charlotte Bronte’s other books must not be overlooked.

However I cannot help but mention that I am very excited about the new production of Jane Eyre of which I have been following casting. In my mind there can never be too many although Cirian Hinds will always be my Mr. Rochester. The production in scheduled to appear in 2011 and I know will be eagerly awaited by so many of us. In the meantime it is nice to know there are stories like The Foundling hiding in my library shelves just waiting for discovery.


Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature

Which Austen Heroine Are You?


Well I cannot say as though I am surprised!

Which Austen Herione are you?  To find out take this quiz! And while you are at it check out the rest of the Emma Adaptations website. If you are at all interested in Regency period costuming then this site is a must. The costuming in each of the three Emma adaptations is addressed and discussed. Another site to get lost in on another rainy Sunday!

I alas am at work but I would love to be at home bundled under a nice quilt watching a nice Austen adaptation. Although the next thing on my list is an older Jane Eyre that I have not seen. It is the 1993 adaption. My all time favorite is A&E’s 1997 version with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton. I also keep meaning to watch a film version of Wide Sargasso Sea. I have read it but never seen it on screen. But it is another I can keep on my list. What would I do after all if I ever ran out after all?

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Filed under Adult Books, Jane Austen