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A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy) Paperback – March 22, 2005
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Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mothers death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left wi! th the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy. (Ages 12 up) Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
A Great and Terrible Beauty is the sort of novel that you cannot put down because there are so many elements, so many layers that make the novel compelling and enthralling. I loved the backdrop of Victorian England and the way women were viewed and what was expected from them in those times. The female characters spoke volumes about this particularly difficult time period for women. Pippa's desire to meet the perfect prince touched me. She is a very flawed character, but with dreams and desires that spoke to me. Felicity is also quite a complex character.Read more ›
But trouble doesn't stop there. Gemma is haunted by mysterious visions, where she sees her mother, a young girl and a myserious beast. At the same time, she must attempt to assimilate into the elite Spence society. Later, Gemma uncovers the diary of Mary Dowd, which unleases the story of the Order, an old Spence society, no longer existing, that was comprised of girls who traveled to other realms and the spirit world. In addition, the secrets of Mary's death, and her friend Sarah's, are unraveled. When one of Gemma's new friends decides to reinstate the Order, Gemma and two others join her. But this coming-of-age heroine will quickly discover that all is not as it seems...and someone (something?) is after her.
This is an incredible story. It is well-written and captivating. The characters, especially Gemma's friend Felicity, literally seem to step off the pages and enter our world. But what really sets this book apart from any others is the way that Libba Bray has woven a sharp analysis of Victorian society into a gripping fictional tale. A Great and Terrible Beauty is a must-read that will stick with young adult readers long after the last page has been turned.
Gemma Doyle was born and raised in India with her mother, father, and brother. Having just turned sixteen she is like any other adolescent girl, getting into squabbles with her mom and pouting that she cannot go to live in England. Deliverance for Gemma comes as a very mixed blessing when she witnesses her mother's suicide (in a vision, no less) and is sent to an all-girl's finishing school outside of London. Falling into the usual petty squabbles of popularity and independence, Gemma eventually comes to realize that there is more to the Spence Academy, and herself, than she could ever have known. In a madcap tale of gypsies, magical powers, and deep dark soul-sucking evil Gemma has to face up to her own personal demons as well as the very real spirits that wish her, and her friends, harm.
One one level, this is just your typical romantic bodice-ripper complete with virile dangerous young men and the comedy of manners that set the standards so long ago. Reading this book really seemed to me to be a kind of "The Craft" meets "The Little Princess". Gemma befriends both popular and unpopular alike and much of the book dwells on the problems haunting each of her friends.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My son and I visited one of those "Little Free Libraries" and this book was there. The cover caught my eye and I figured I would give it a shot. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Wendy Homan
This is my favorite YA series. It's well researched, beautiful, but also depressing. If you are looking for a Victorian gothic read, this is it!Published 4 months ago by Ashley
I adore this book.
"I’m running because I can, because I must. Because I want to see how far I can go before I have to stop. Read more
It was a little slow at first, but once the magic was uncovered I was pleasantly surprised! Can't wait to get to the second one!Published 5 months ago by Angela Parise
I was given A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray as a birthday gift, which was great timing because I had just stumbled onto the series myself and wanted to look into it... Read morePublished 6 months ago by soapathetic
This is the most amazing series of books I've ever read. Truly life-changing and absolutely absorbing. I've given this series to any number of women and teenage girls. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Joyce Van Horn