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A Great and Terrible Beauty

by Libba Bray

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gemma Doyle (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,473346676 (3.81)373
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.
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» See also 373 mentions

English (339)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (344)
Showing 1-5 of 339 (next | show all)
Even though this is a book best for teens I found myself enthralled with the story of Gemma. After her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, Gemma is sent to an finishing school in London. Everyone is saying her mother died of cholera because the truth is far more scandalous for the Victorian era. Despite taking place in Victorian England, Gemma's boarding school could be in western Maine in the 21st century. The cattiness of school girls is as timeless as it is universal. In short, there will always be a crew, a posse, a clique, or gang. Some group of individuals designed to alienate and torture others. The names of these groups will change, but for the outsider the unfathomable desire to belong to one of them will never change. The act of self-mutilation in an effort to feel "something" is timeless, as well. Cutting in an effort to feel something is also represented in the story. The title of the book comes from the great and terrible beauty of power. There is an unspoken responsibility when bestowed with power. Gemma has the power to visit another realm; one filled with beautiful visions and terrible evils. ( )
  SeriousGrace | May 20, 2022 |
Slow beginning but picked up nicely. I'll probably continue on with this series. ( )
  fellanta13 | Feb 14, 2022 |
I have come to the conclusion that I love Libba Bray. I think I would love her even if her books sucked. Because if you watch any interview with her, or read her blog, you will come to realize that she is crazy in a very best way. The thing is though, she's awesome, and so are her books. I read Going Bovine first and loved it. She has a quirky style and a great sense of humor, but is also very deep. I knew that these books (the Gemma trilogy) were set in Victorian England. I am not usually a fan of teen period novels. They generally go like this, "i'm a princess, but i want freedom, i have to be a proper lady, that boy is so handsome." An the rest of the novel goes on to describe the boys face, and eyes, and how sweet he is, but really he is a sexist prick. So I wasn't all that excited, and I really really, didn't want to be let down by Libba.

I was not!

This is much more a fantasy in a way. Its more about Gemma finding herself, and friendship than boy problems. Although realistically they are there. Mostly with her friend Pippia who is getting married off to a 50 year old perv. I really can't say anything bad about Libba's books. She is a fantastic author and knows how to tell a story with great humor, wit and charm. ( )
  banrions | Dec 7, 2021 |
I liked this book a lot. It was so refreshing to me to see a book that focused so much more heavily on female friendship than on the romance aspects because it is so rare to see that in teen books. There were a few parts where I thought this story got a little repetitive, especially towards the end, but that didn't take away from my love of this book that much. I did enjoy the plot and I am excited to see what happens in the next book but what really drew me into this story was the characters. At the beginning, I thought it was weird how quickly people that disliked each other became friends but I grew to love and care about each of the characters and I can't wait to see where the story goes in later books. I have to say right now the ending of this book seemed very definitive to me and I can't see very clearly where this will go next, but the fact that I'm still very excited to read the next book shows me that this was a good ending to the book. I truly loved the setting of this book and seeing the world through the eyes of girls living in a very different time, where girls had to be very prim and proper and obedient, was very interesting and really painted clear picture of what it may have been like to live as a girl back then, minus the magical elements. Of loved seeing all the personalities of the four main girls shine through and also the personalities of the secondary characters as well. You could see which girls were more excepting of their lot in life and which wished for a little more. There are a few characters I am still intrigued about, such as Ms. Moore and Mrs. Nightwing. I also didn't feel like the stories of the two other girls from the past Sarah and Mary were completely wrapped up, especially with Sarah so I'll be interested to see if the other books explain more about those people. I also loved the way magic was used in this book and the way it was blended into the world so I'm looking forward to learning more about how all the magic works. I'm looking forward to reading the next book and hopefully getting some answers to all the questions I still have at the end of this book. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
i just couldn't get into this book. it was slow. and the main character was unlikable and thick headed. i am a HUGE fan of the author and other works...just not this one. ( )
  MorbidLibrarian | Sep 18, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 339 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bray, Libbaprimary 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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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.

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