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The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, Book 3) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 26, 2007

Book 3 of 3 in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2007:
“A huge work of massive ambition.”

Review, People, December 24, 2007:
"This is a rare treat that offers a bit of everything--romance, magic, history, Gothic intrigue--and delivers on all of it in 819 beautifully crafted pages."

About the Author

Libba Bray is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, son, and a cat of questionable intelligence.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385730306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385730303
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

author spotlight
"I'm one of those people who has to write. If I don't write, I feel itchy and depressed and cranky. So everybody's glad when I write and stop complaining already."-Libba Bray

Libba Bray is the author of the acclaimed A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

What is it about writing an author bio that gives me that deer-in-headlights feeling? It's not exactly like I'm going to say "I was born in Alabama..." and somebody's going to jump up and snarl, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" At least I hope not.

I think what gets me feeling itchy is all that emphasis on the facts of a life, while all the juicy, relevant, human oddity stuff gets left on the cutting room floor. I could tell you the facts-I lived in Texas for most of my life; I live in New York City with my husband and five-year-old son now; I have freckles and a lopsided smile; I'm allergic to penicillin.

But that doesn't really give you much insight into me. That doesn't tell you that I stuck a bead up my nose while watching TV when I was four and thought I'd have to go to the ER and have it cut out. Or that I once sang a punk version of "Que Sera Sera" onstage in New York City. Or that I made everyone call me "Bert" in ninth grade for no reason that I can think of. See what I mean?

God is in the details. So with that in mind, here is my bio. Sort of.

by Libba Bray

1. I lived in Texas until I was 26 years old, then I moved to New York City with $600.00 in my shoe ('cause muggers won't take it out of your shoe, y'know . . . riiiiight . . .) and a punchbowl (my grandmother's gift) under my arm. I ended up using the punchbowl box as an end table for two years.

2. My dad was a Presbyterian minister. Yes, I am one of those dreaded P.K.s-Preacher's Kids. Be afraid. Be very afraid . . .

3. The first story I ever wrote, in Mrs. McBee's 6th grade English class, was about a girl whose family is kidnapped and held hostage by a murderous lot of bank robbers who intend to kill the whole family-including the dog-until the 12-year-old heroine foils the plot and saves the day. It included colored pencil illustrations of manly-looking, bearded criminals smoking, and, oblivious to the fact that The Beatles had already sort of laid claim to the title, I called my novel, HELP. My mom still has a copy. And when I do something she doesn't like, she threatens to find it.

4. My favorite word is "redemption." I like both its meaning and the sound. My least favorite word is "maybe." "Maybe" is almost always a "no" drawn out in cruel fashion.

5. My three worst habits are overeating, self-doubt, and the frequent use of the "f" word.

6. The three things I like best about myself are my sense of humor, my ability to listen, and my imagination.

7. I have an artificial left eye. I lost my real eye in a car accident when I was eighteen. In fact, I had to have my entire face rebuilt because I smashed it up pretty good. It took six years and thirteen surgeries. However, I did have the pleasure of freezing a plastic eyeball in an ice cube, putting it in a friend's drink, ("Eyeball in your highball?") and watching him freak completely. Okay, so maybe that's not going down on my good karma record. But it sure was fun.

8. In 7th grade, my three best friends and I dressed up as KISS and walked around our neighborhood on Halloween. Man, we were such dorks.

9. I once spent New Year's Eve in a wetsuit. I'd gone to the party in a black dress that was a little too tight (too many holiday cookies) and when I went to sit down, the dress ripped up the back completely. Can we all say, mortified? The problem was, my friends were moving out of their house-everything was packed and on a truck-and there was nothing I could put on . . . but a wetsuit that they still had tacked to the wall. I spent the rest of the party maneuvering through throngs of people feeling like a giant squid.

10. I got married in Florence, Italy. My husband and I were in love but totally broke, so we eloped and got married in Italy, where he was going on a business trip. We had to pull a guy off the street to be our witness. It was incredibly romantic. Florence is still one of my favorite cities in the world.

11. I often write in longhand and type it into the computer later, editing as I go. Sitting in my favorite coffeehouse with a new notebook and a hot cup of java is my idea of heaven.

12. I'm related to Davy Crockett on my mom's side. Honest.

13. I grew up doing theatre and spent a long time as a playwright. I still think very visually when I write.

14. Some of my favorite movies of all time (subject to change when I think of other movies I love) are All About Eve, Brazil, Blade Runner, Spinal Tap, Citizen Kane, Harold & Maude, To Kill a Mockingbird, Singin' in the Rain, and probably a million more that I can't think of right now. I have never made it through The Wizard of Oz without crying. Not once.

15. Naming my favorite books feels like naming a favorite child-impossible. But here's my list of some Y.A. books I love as of 4:03pm today. Tithe by Holly Black. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (not really Y.A. but I read it when I was 16 and it rocked my world). Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Here's what's on my nightstand to read: The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Acceleration by Graham McNamee. The Literary Opus of Daniel Elam by Daniel Elam. By the Time You Finish this Book You Might Be Dead by Aaron Zimmerman.

16. I love to be scared. Not "hey, I think I smell smoke . . ." scared, but creepy, paranoid, what's-that-out-there-in-the-dark, ghost story scared. It's no surprise that I was the girl who got invited to the slumber parties because I could be counted on to tell a tale to scare the bejesus out of you.

17. In homage to a book I just read entitled, FIVE MEN WHO BROKE MY HEART, I submit: The first boy who broke my heart (age 6) didn't want to sit next to me because I'd wet my pants in reading circle once and he thought I was gross. Damn my small bladder! The second boy who broke my heart (age 16) was a drummer with a band (the start of a trend, folks...) and he threw me over for a really cool chick I couldn't even bring myself to hate. The third boy who broke my heart (ages 20--24, ay yi yi . . .) was a strapping hunk of bodaciousness with the mind of Einstein. We had the exact same birthday, same year and everything. So the time he forgot to wish me a happy birthday was kind of the beginning of the end, I think. The fourth boy who broke my heart (age 25) was also a drummer. I had to stop with the drummers. The fifth boy . . . well, I married him, and if he breaks my heart, I'm going to burn all his favorite, rare import punk vinyl in the middle of the living room, so he's been warned.

18. I'm one of those people who has to write. If I don't write, I feel itchy and depressed and cranky. So everybody's glad when I write and stop complaining already.

19. My Pennsylvania Dutch great-great-great grandmother was supposedly a psychic who could see and speak to the dead. Sort of a witch, I guess. Her husband was an undertaker, and she would have these visions of someone bringing in a string of a particular size (people were measured for their coffins in this way) and it would come true. Creepy stuff, but fascinating.

20. If I were stuck on a deserted island, the five indispensable CDs I'd take would be London Calling by the Clash, Quadrophenia by The Who, Aretha Franklin's Greatest Hits, To Venus and Back by Tori Amos, and Elvis Costello's Greatest Hits.

21. I hate doughnuts. Weird but true.

Customer Reviews

It just didn't have to end the disappointing way in which it did.
This book is well worth the hours it takes to read and even though the book is over 800 pages, it keeps your attention the whole way through.
M. Santos
While Rebel Angels is my favorite book in the Gemma Doyle series, The Sweet Far Thing was a perfect end to the trilogy.
Kelli of I'd So Rather Be Reading

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Kate Coombs VINE VOICE on December 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Well, I spent the first 3/4 of this book racked by horror movie syndrome: you know, when you're watching the girl go down the long, dark hall and reach for the doorknob, having split off from the rest of the group, and you're yelling, "Don't do it!" at the screen? Only in this case, I was yelling at Gemma not to trust all the wrong people and misuse the magic she holds. She does both, repeatedly, for hundreds of pages.

Yet Bray's point seems to be that it's hard to know what to do when you're a 17-year-old girl, let alone when you carry far too great a responsibility and everyone around you is clamoring for you to hand it over to them. So while Gemma naturally distrusts the authoritarian Order and the Rakshana, she is more conflicted about her supposed allies in the realms, particularly two--make that three--individuals who are not nearly as dead as they should be.

At the same time, Gemma and her friends are trying to figure out what to do about their oh-so-scripted futures, not to mention troubles with family members. And Gemma worries over her feelings for Kartik, who pulls away, then doesn't, then does, even as she tries to make sense of events in the Realms and the warnings she is receiving in visions.

It kind of reminds me of how Harry Potter and his friends spend the middle of the last book glumly hiding out and quarreling because they lack all kinds of important information--and simply because they're teenagers and really don't know what to do next.

The Sweet Far Thing is a long read, but it is incredibly well written and moves at a surprisingly fast clip. (Watch for some lovely metaphors tucked here and there in Bray's prose.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Layton on December 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After 300 pages, I couldn't take it anymore. To give you some idea of the problem with the writing, here is an account of a person walking down the street, as it would be written by Libba Bray:

"I moved my left foot. Then my right foot. Then my left foot. Then my right foot. Then my left foot. Then my right foot. Then suddenly I realized that my left foot was no longer to be trusted. Then my right foot made lewd comments at me. Then I realized that my left foot was actually my right foot, because if you unscramble the letters in `left foot,' you come up with `ha ha I'm really your right foot!' I just didn't know who to trust anymore. Oh, wait, suddenly my left foot is my best friend and had my back all along, even though it threatened me once and killed my mother. Then my left foot started making out with my right foot for no apparent reason. Then I caved in to peer pressure from my so-called friends even though I'd made that mistake 4,000 times in two previous books as well as this one, so I used my magic in a way I wasn't supposed to, and of course, it turned out to be a big mistake just like it did 4,000 times before in two previous books as well as this one. Then I had a vision that made no sense. When I woke up, both my feet had amputated themselves in a desperate attempt to get the hell away from me. But I had to keep walking down the street. It was my last promise to my dying mother, who turned out to be evil, because when you unscramble the word `mother,' you get `two all-beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame-seed bun.' So I moved my left stump. Then my right stump. Then my left stump. Then my right stump ... " (repeat for 300 more pages)
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60 of 77 people found the following review helpful By YA Librarian on January 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Gemma and her friends Ann and Felicity are back in Ms. Bray's final installment of the Gemma Doyle trilogy. Gemma and Fee are waiting to enter society as women and Ann is preparing to become a nanny. The girls have much to discover, such as their desires, destines and who are their true friends and enemies.

The book is a long 800+ pages, and to be frank sometimes it felt like it. The book starts out with a lot of talk about balls and the Victorian Era. For people who want to read about the Realms and Kartik the first 200/300 pages maybe a bit tiresome. Also I felt the book could have moved a little more quickly. Around page 600 or so I found myself flipping through the pages in order to get to the good stuff.

The writing is good. The plot dragged a tad, and after much thought I agree Gemma's character didn't progress as I hoped it would.

The ending is bittersweet for Gemma and many readers are having a difficult time with this. I can understand that because when I read Little Women I was upset when Jo refused to marry Laurie. Still, the readers' passion impresses me because these are teens that care deeply for characters in a YA book series. And who says teens don't read!

Gemma's decision at the end was a bit of a shocker. I kept scratching my head thinking "where did that come from?" It made no sense and was never hinted at in the previous two books. It just seemed to happen out of the blue, which was a bit difficult to swallow.

Overall, I did enjoy the novel, but I think that Ms. Bray's characters were able to get away with far too much. Each one got what they wanted in the end, which was rather disappointing. As a person who has studied, and taught history, I thought the girls were far too modern in their beliefs.
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