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A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty (edition 2005)

by Libba Bray

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,680319440 (3.81)350
Title:A Great and Terrible Beauty
Authors:Libba Bray
Info:Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2005), Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Reviewed, Amazon
Tags:read 2007, female protagonist, age: young adult

Work details

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

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» See also 350 mentions

English (314)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (319)
Showing 1-5 of 314 (next | show all)
Turns out I lied - I just reread this. I didn't enjoy it as much as previously but it was still a lot of fun.

God I LOVED this but I would never read it again because I have a strong suspicion I wouldn't like it nearly so much. High drama, big magicks, awesome girls, and scary evil. Recommended for the 10-15 crowd. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
Big Big fan of this book and the entire trilogy. ( )
  lotoflivinglefttodo | Jul 21, 2016 |
The setting and characters are the real stars of this novel. The plot is interesting but it was the world of these Victorian girls that kept me turning the pages.

It begins in June 1895 in Bombay, India. Gemma, the heroine of the story is turning 16 and cannot understand why her parents will not take her to London, England. In Victorian culture, women have a short period of time in which to catch a man who will support them for the rest of their lives. Emma wants to join English society and participate in balls, shopping, and dining out. While she does get her wish to go to England, it is through disastrous events that change her life forever.

The dynamics of an English boarding school and the division between the social classes is fascinating. These girls live a life most modern teenagers could never imagine filled with restrictions and expectations of their every move and word. Yet, the jealousies and cruelties are no different than those practiced in high school today.

The plot centers around a magical realm and powers that draw Gemma and her friends into dark intrigue. The ending was not as satisfying as I had hoped it would be. The revelation of Gemma’s mother’s past destroyed my compassion for her. Pippa’s decision, while understandable, seemed childish and suicidal. The threat from Kartik’s people seemed to go nowhere and was unresolved while the romance between him and Gemma was disappointing.

Libba’s writing style is vivid and enjoyable. This is her first book and I would definitely read more of her work. ( )
  Bonnie_Ferrante | Jul 10, 2016 |
I picked this up at the library because it had a pretty cover and it was on CD. Hey, I need something to listen to at work.
So far, it's not really impressing me, but I guess that's what I get for judging a book by its cover. :/

ETA: It's finally over. Thank goodness. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
A Great and Terrible Beautify is a great book that takes place in 1895. Gemma who has always had visions realizes they are real when her vision of her mother dying comes true. Gemma is now shipped off from India to a boarding school in England. There she finds a group of powerful girls like her and a journal that will reveal secrets of a mystical order. Soon Gemma is able to travel through her visions to another demension and she and the others girls are aloud to let off steam. They can have the fun that their future rolls of victorian wives will never allow them to have. Gemma soon realizes that magic is not all fun and games when she learns it is her roll to rebuild the order and when she realizes she is being followed. This book was interesting and not like any other book i have read before. I found myself enjoying that it took place in another time period and i liked the historical background of the book. The genre of this book was fantasy but all the characters were well thought out and loaded with depth. They each had issues of their own that they needed to work through and overcome. This was a great start to a wonderful series. I would recommend this book as well as the others in this series to everyone. ( )
  brookelmartin | Jun 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 314 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Libba Brayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bailey, JosephineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot...


But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.


And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance--
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

--from "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

For Barry and Josh
First words
June 21, 1895
Bombay, India

"Please tell me that's not going to be part of my birthday dinner this evening."
But forgiveness... I'll hold on to that fragile slice of hope and keep it close, remembering that in each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice.
I'm sorry, Gemma. But we can't live in the light all of the time. You have to take whatever light you can hold into the dark with you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385732317, Paperback)

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:41 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

After the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, sixteen-year-old Gemma returns to England, after many years in India, to attend a finishing school where she becomes aware of her magical powers and ability to see into the spirit world.

(summary from another edition)

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