A Great and Terrible Beauty

by Libba Bray

Random House Children's Books | December 9, 2003 | Kobo Edition (eBook)

A Great and Terrible Beauty is rated 4.5978 out of 5 by 92.
It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Kobo Edition (eBook)

Published: December 9, 2003

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0375890491

ISBN - 13: 9780375890499

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Underwhelmed & Disappointed I began reading A Great and Terrible Beauty expecting Victorian-style dialogue and mannerisms, intermixed with bits of fantasy and magic. What I got was the repeated mention of Victorian ideals (and fashion), using modern dialogue with next-to-no fantasy or magic. Frankly, I was a little disappointed. After my first encounter with Gemma, I was tempted to put the book down and walk away. She came across as a spoiled and self-centred juvenile who I had no interest in reading about. Fortunately, after the death of her mother, she managed to pull her head out of her ass long enough to see that the world did not in fact revolve around her. In time, her moments of immaturity grew on me as I realized it was a pretty accurate depiction of your average sixteen-year-old, and she was strong when the moment required strength from her. Having read in the summary that Gemma "blackmails" herself and Ann into the popular clique at her new boarding school, I was looking forward to cattiness and betrayals and a general feeling of constant distrust. What I got was a "friendship" (and I'm using that term very loosely) that seemed shallow and unrealistic. Gemma is constantly being used as a pawn by Felicity to make Pippa jealous, and seems to take no issue with it. In fact, she seems to relish in the moments where Felicity chooses her over Pippa, as she delights in seeing Pippa's hurt over her best friend's betrayal. For reasons I can't fathom, Gemma decides to trust these girls enough to tell them her deepest secret - she has visions and the ability to transport them all into a different realm where whatever they can imagine will come into fruition. When we finally get to the realms, Gemma is told she is not allowed to use her powers outside of the realms. For the longest time no real reason is given, other then the patronizing "because I said so" routine of parents, and so of course when she is pushed by her "friends" (who then seemed to be using her for access to the realms and the power it gave them) to take the magic into the real world, Gemma does so without real fear of the consequences - because they were never properly explained to her. I did enjoy the slow pacing of the revealing of secrets, as I felt it gave me a reason to continue reading. Without the mystery surrounding the realms, and Gemma's mother's involvement, I doubt I would have kept reading, especially considering that it took almost 300 pages before the realms were presented; the lack of magic and otherworldliness was quite off-putting as I was expecting quite a bit of fantasy. I read elsewhere that the "magic of the realms teeters on the edge of becoming a metaphor for drug use" and I couldn't agree more. There were several scenes where I was expecting the girls to get caught using some substance to explain their vivid delusions, as the images that were described seemed so disjointed. Overall I feel quite underwhelmed by A Great and Terrible Beauty. It took about 100 pages or so before it managed to catch most of my attention, and even then I found myself putting the book down quite frequently as other things managed to steal my attention. I did enjoy reading it, but I really don't have much to say about it, which is why it's getting 2 stars for "meh" instead of 3 for "enjoyable yet non-memorable".
Date published: 2012-12-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too slow paced and drawn out for me In India, this book started out beautifully, just pure descriptive magic. I wish everyone just stayed their butts there. Side note: I am extremely partial to backdrops in France and/or India-so I may be a smidgeon biased. Gemma is witness to a horrific scene involving her mother-a scene, to her dismay, that she foresaw literally minutes before it occurred. She is then promptly shipped off to a boarding school in England. This is where the problems arose for me, and where the story began to grow a little stale. So much so, that I would put the book down for days on end, only to finally pick it up again and realize that ughh..maybe I shouldn't have. I think the change of scenery had a large impact on my loss of interest. England seemed so drab and void of the colour, smells, and culture that India provided in the beginning (though I have previously enjoyed stories based in England, this one was just dull to me). However, there WAS a bright light at the end of that gray tunnel. The story picked up considerably as Gemma formed a stronger bond with a few of her classmates. These secondary characters-Ann, Felicity and Pippa-also become increasingly more interesting as I became more informed of their lives, and the reasons for their reactions and interests. I think Libba Bray did a good job of making that transition easy and seamless for her readers: the fact that Gemma bumped heads with these girls initially, but then grew closer to them. I felt like it was done smartly, and not so quickly that it felt forced. The 2 redeeming things in this book for me were these: 1) The interaction between Gemma and Kartik. I waited with baited breathe for them to be in the same place at the same time, and I severely hope they have more scenes together in the next 2 books! and 2) The paranormal aspect. I think the intricacies and explanations were well thought out, and fun. I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out from here on out-I'm expecting a lot more of it in Rebel Angels. Overall, this book was extremely slow paced for me, and when it finally did pick up, the excitement was still a little too few and far between. The characters were pretty one dimensional, and I probably could have done without a few of them. I really, really wanted to like this series-I saw SO many positive reviews for it. Hopefully my feelings change for the other books.
Date published: 2012-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Takes you to a magical world. Growing up in the 1800s, women are expected to be beautiful, well mannered and ladylike arm candy for the men who wish to claim them as wives like prizes and trophies. They should speak when spoken to, curtsy, smile and nod while being prisoners of their corsets. Too bad sixteen year old Gemma Doyle is anything but, she’s rough around the edges with her own opinions and her poor manners. While walking around the markets of Bombay, India with the unbearable heat beating down on her, Gemma is longing to be in cool and green London, England where every young lady must be to increase her chances in the prim and proper Victorian society to become a suitable wife. After having a terrible vision of her Mother’s questionable death which ends up becoming tragically true, it seems that she finally gets her wish. Now on the next train to London to attend the Spence Academy for Young Ladies, this dream of Gemma’s is slowly turning into a nightmare. Not only is she trying to adjust to her new way of life at school with a bunch of catty girls that make her an outcast, she also has her visions to deal with and a mysterious and beautiful Indian boy, Kartik, that has followed her from India and warns her to stop her visions altogether – or else. To be one that doesn’t take kindly to orders, Gemma obviously doesn’t listen. In one of her forbidden visions, she is led by a little girl to the East Wing of Spence that was taken by a fire years ago and claimed the lives of three people. In the East Wing is where Gemma discovers the diary of Mary Dowd, which reveals secrets about her visions and a group of women who look after another world and its power called The Order. This other world is called The Realms, where everything is beautiful and anything is possible. Gemma and her unexpected friends come together to form an Order of their own and embark on a journey side by side, quickly learning that with something so beautiful comes with something very ugly. The girls learn some dark secrets and must resist temptation, restore order back in The Realms and come out of it unharmed to tell the tale. It’s an awesome story of young women in a different time period where they’re trapped but let their minds run free, searching for more than just being married off to the highest bidder. They want more things in life than just keeping a man happy. They want love, hope and adventure for their future. The characters are bitchy and sometimes naive but they slowly become best friends through their flaws and dreams. The magical world that Libba Bray paints for you is amazing. They touch upon it a little in the first installment but it really takes off in the rest of the series. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did. Next book is Rebel Angels.
Date published: 2011-06-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Stuff Great series! I was hooked from the beginning. Sometimes its hard to understand what's going on and you may have to reread it but it was a great read.
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disturbingly Amazing This book is positively a must read. So graphic, intelligent and unpredictable it will leave you running to the book store for the next. The scenes in which Gemma lives the halls of Spence and walks the streets of London are equal to those scenes of her visits to the Fantastical Realms, perhpas even arguably better. I love this book and I share it with others.
Date published: 2010-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Stunning. Very enjoyable. The characters are real, exciting, and always on the go. Gemma is a very strong minded, and stubborn girl - who should learn to put her foot down more often. Her new found friends, who are bound by secrets, and the need to survive in a 'cut throat' school. A school were the young elite older girls really have a say in almost anything. Her friends push her to her limits and make her question what she came to the school for, and is she really prepared? Kartik - a devastatingly, in my opinion - handsome guy, tries to lead her in the right, or wrong path. They both are tempted and lead astray by different needs and in most cases - peole. Gemma is thrown into a world, and Kartik is her compass to into a beautiful would that her mother knew was terrible to behold.This really is a great and terrible beauty.
Date published: 2010-07-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from TWO SIDES EGH Good book, good idea. But the auther added some unecesary details....Which at some parts made me want to put the book down and do something else. AMAZING The way she thought up the other world, was amazing! And it inthralled me to read more
Date published: 2010-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magically Enthralling! I cannot do anything else but praise this book. It had the most fresh ways of magic and new seductive writing style that I've read yet! If your a fan of Harry Potter or the Twilight Saga, you might want to give this a chance! I couldn't put it down and was absolutely thrilled to find out that there were two more books in the series waiting to hold me captive!
Date published: 2009-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing If there was one book that i can say was simply beautiful or completely different. It would be this one. It is an amazingly well written book and I think libba bray has the most amazing imagination to be able to wright something like this.
Date published: 2009-12-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wouldn't draw me in to Book II. After witnessing (through second sight) the death of her Mother, and a mysterious stranger she met moments before, Gemma finds herself uprooted from everything she knows from her life in India to the very place she was begging her Mother to go the day she died. London. Here in Spense Academy, Gemma must deal with fitting in while coming to grips with the mysteries lying around her Mothers death and her new found ability. To complicate things more, she has been followed by Kartik, who is encouraging her to suppress her power should she open up the realms to a dark and menacing force. Caught between her new friends, Kartik, and her own misgivings about who she really is, Gemma must decide whether to pursue answers or take the word of a stranger and shut herself off from this power. A believer that any storyline has potential, I really wanted to be pulled into this book. I did not find the plot to be gripping and, worst of all, the character relationships to be compelling. I admit that the female characters were well developed and believable (considering the time period they lived in), and Bray is a talented in her writing style, I just felt that alone was not enough to draw me into the book. I would have preferred more time be taken with Kartik or even Miss Moore (one of the teachers). Perhaps this is meant to be developed in the sequels, but honestly, if I hadn't purchased them already this book would not have compelled me to continue on in the series. *** This being said, I am now half-way through Rebel Angels (Book II) and am enjoying it much more!!!! ***
Date published: 2009-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating I read the triology of these books a few years ago and fell in love with the story. It was so unique and fresh that I couldn't put it down. I think this is a great and easy read that will keep you captivated long after you've finished it. ( Amazingly enough, I would simply think of another character while reading and their name would appear a few lines down the page....fantastic!)
Date published: 2009-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow I liked this very much! I'm about to start the next book, but I thought about writing a review on this :D. It was pretty good , I heard there would be some magic involved but I really at first didn't know what was going to happen. I started reading and I'm like wow? Some girl in the 1800's going to an English school, while I wanted something about Vampires?! I love Dramatic British films, but a book about it? I questioned myself on what kind of books I liked. But this indeed does have some magic in it. For those who love magic, but also a little British love... :D I recommand this book. It was great
Date published: 2009-09-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Gothic for the Younger Crowd I found this title on a book list entitled "Teen Books Adults Will Love". I have read other titles on the list, such as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. With other well known titles such as Harry Potter and Twilight, I figured I couldn't go wrong! I work with teenagers on a regular basis, so one thing I like to be able to relate to them on is the topic of books. Not all teens read, so it's nice to be able to compare a real life situation to a novel they may have read. Not to mention the description of this novel as a Gothic. After having studied Jane Eyre in my university English classes - I was intrigued. A Great and Terrible Beauty is the story of sixteen-year-old Gemma, told after the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, when she 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. I found some of Libba Bray's descriptions of Gemma's visions a little confusing. It's difficult to write about magic and the supernatural, but it shouldn't be hard to read about. There were points where I wondered if the girls were within a vision, whether Gemma was dreaming in her bed, or whether these things were actually occurring. Bray some work into giving her audience details of the Order's past, but I was still left unsatisfied by her novel's conclusion. Did Bray end this way just so she could turn Gemma Doyle's story into a trilogy? I do think that Libba Bray did a wonderful job writing about life in 19th century England. This can sometimes be difficult for contemporary authors. They can create a very detailed setting that takes away from their storyline, or a storyline that gets lost somewhere between the past and the present. I felt that Bray created a story in the ideal 19th century world, complete with social life and customs. Even Gemma's boarding school was well described and a wonderful addition to the story. It added character to the girls friendship. Overall, I enjoyed the novel. It's nice to read books outside of your usual genre every once in awhile. Will I continue to read the rest of Libba Bray's trilogy? Probably not. However, I am happy that I gave A Great and Terrible Beauty a shot!
Date published: 2009-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting i loved it. it had action, suspence, mystery it was perfect. set in one of my favourite era's (victorian) and with magic! the charactors and amazing with real depth. i loved this book a must read
Date published: 2009-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! A Great and Terrible Beauty the first installment in the Gemma Doyle Series is amazing. The story begins in India where we meet Gemma. Gemma is soon swept away to England to a finishing school for girls called Spence. It is here that she meets her friends and we find out what secret powers our heroine has. I found this book well planned, with a swift plot that made me not want to put the book down. I can't wait to read the second book in the series Rebel Angels.
Date published: 2009-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It!!! There aren't enough words to describe how much I loved this book, from the moment I started reading, I really never wanted to stop, each page has such magic and thrill. The plot is truley amazing, and unlike anything I have ever read before.The characters in this book are brilliant, along with an adventure that is riviting and suspenseful, with fantasy that is truely unique. I am so excited to read Rebel Angels, the sequel.
Date published: 2009-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED IT!! I loved this book. Once I started it I couldn't put it down. Libba Bray's writting in this book was amazing, the plot was interesting and full of twists and turns and the characters very well developed and all unique. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fantisey, you will fall in love with it right from the beginning.
Date published: 2009-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different I liked this book a lot. I didn't think it would be written as well as it was.It was different from what I had thought. It was beautifully mysterious.Some parts were boring but then the pace quickened and it became better. Not like any book I have ever read.Different in a good way.
Date published: 2009-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Spawn of My Addiction This is a fabulous book. The first in the Gemma Doyle Series, Great and Terrible Beauty really captured me wrong early on. The writing is great, the characters are very easy to relate to, and there's also the magic and fantasy that is the cherry on top and really puts the whole book together. Even though it is the integral part to the story being told, the quality of the writing doesn't need the hook of the fantasy. I also love the fact that it is written in 1896, London, England. Without that aspect, the book just wouldn't be the same. I love this and the other books, I definitely recommend this to anyone who likes history, fantastical, or simply to be entertained while reading.
Date published: 2009-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful A Great and Terrible Beauty is just as mesmerizing as it's title and cover art. This novel will have you up half the night because you just won't be able to part with it until you've finished. It's a wonderful mix of fantasy, romance, 19th Century humor/ wit, as well as pure childlike imagination. It will have you truely believing in the power of magic and friendship.
Date published: 2009-04-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not a solid story... Going in, I was aware that this novel is geared towards young adults, and as such, I wasn't expecting it to have a particularly complex or sophisticated plot. A Great and Terrible Beauty failed to live up to even my meagre expectations however, as I found the storyline to be rudimentary, scattered, unconvincing and shallow. I never really cared for or felt I could relate to any of the characters - if anything, I found them to be quite unsympathetic and unlikeable! Aside from certain elements of adolescent subject matter, the unrefined story was more in line with something I might expect to enthrawl 7-8 year-olds. The purpose of the magical realm and the rules that governed its existence were never really made clear in a satisfying manner; there just didn't seem to be much of a logical backbone to support and explain the fantasy elements of the tale. All in all, I was left feeling thoroughly unimpressed.
Date published: 2009-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Even after reading Twilight! This book left me wanting more. I am currently reading the second. It's not an overdose of fantasy - just a perfect amount (I am not an avid fantasy reader) - and it's got a hint of romance too! I love the main character, the author does a good job of building her up...truly witty. Even though the setting is in the 1800s, I can still relate to Gemma and her troubles. I've read the Twilight series and have been on the search to finding something similar, though this isn't really similar, it does put up a good fight to be on the same level. There were some nights I stayed up till 3am reading...something i did with Twilight as well. If you liked twilight, I think you'll like this too. Very worth the time and money :)
Date published: 2009-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love It This book surprised me very much, I wasn't expecting something so good and interesting. I was expecting something a little shallow, a good read but nothing exeptionnal. It is an awesome book. The characters are deep, have their own personally and make us feel their feelings, when their were happy I was and at the end I cried. It was very well written and once you begin reading you can't stop. The end was absolutely great and I can't wait to begin Rebel Angels. It's definetly worth reading so read it!
Date published: 2009-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book! I loved reading this novel, I thought it was beautifully written, and Libba Bray's words conjured extremely vivid images in my mind that made for a wonderful reading experience. This novel is a captivating mix of fantasy, mystery, and romance. I was unable to put it down. A Great and Terrible Beauty puts a whimsical spin on a powerful coming of age story; set in the year 1895, we follow a sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle from her beloved home in India to the mysterious Spence Academy, where she is sent after her mother's death. It is at this strict and strange boarding school that she meets her new friends Ann, Felicity, and Pippa, and together they uncover the Spence Academy's dark and magical past. Gemma is thrust into a life full of power, illusion, and danger. Although she didn't ask for the magic, Gemma and her friends must do everything they can to keep it. A Great and Terrible Beauty is a must read for those who enjoy the fantasy genre, but I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anybody and everybody who is in the mood for a great book. If you can't get enough of A Great and Terrible Beauty, check out Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing, which are the next two installments in the Gemma Doyle trilogy.
Date published: 2009-01-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mysterious fantasy... This book has all the elements of a wonderful dark fantasy. The characters all have well-defined and believable personalities, (with their own strengths and flaws), there is an engaging sense of danger and mystery, and the dream-like realms is a facinating place. And there is just the right hint of romance...not non-existent, but not all-consuming, either! The only thing I'd change is that the plot could be tightened up a bit.
Date published: 2008-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful story fill with magic! A Great and Terrible Beauty is the first book about Gemma Doyle, a young girl who looses her mother and finds out she has a special power... magical power. It's a beautiful adventure that starts then. Divided into three books, A Great and Terrible Beauty takes place in a private school for girls near London. Fill with mystery, drama and excitement, this book, once you finish it, will make you want to get the second book, "Rebel Angels", to continue with Gemma's adventure.
Date published: 2008-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great First Novel Taking place in London 1895, it follows the beginning of sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle’s life at Spence Academy, a boarding school where proper young ladies are groomed to become the wives of rich men. However, Miss Doyle isn’t like other girls, and not just because she doesn’t have impeccable manners. She has mysterious visions that seem to have a habit of coming true. Visions of the future, a gothic mansion filled to the brim with young girls, a secret Order, four unlikely friends sneaking out under the cover of darkness, and a love interest to boot. How could this novel be anything but good? This tale does a great job at keeping you entertained. The story starts off quickly and maintains a steady pace throughout the entire novel. But, this balanced pace left the story feeling like it was building up to something amazing and ground-breaking for a long time, yet when the climax hit it wasn’t as spectacular as I was anticipating. Overall, this is a great first novel for Libba Bray. Recommended For: 11+
Date published: 2008-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really great! This book is really captivating and just all together great. But I must say that the second book is better. Although it demonstrates great penmanship from the author, is seems a little far fetched. But if you are (not trying to be sexist here) a teenage girl that is into all this magical, kind of-but not really- romantic stuff, this would be a very excellent pick to read. You won't be able to put it down! But that's just my opinion.
Date published: 2008-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome this is a great read and one of my favourite books! I read this a while ago and i loved it! i was hooked! i read the rest of the trilogy and i definitely recommend it for teen readers.
Date published: 2008-09-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent story, but skip the abridged audio version I listened to the "abridged" audio version of this book, and although I can't prove it, I really got a sense of things "missing" from the story, particularly at the end. The story seemed to end very abruptly, with the detail and flavour that had been in evidence earlier in the recording, suddenly gone away. The story is interesting, and the characters well-written and engaging, especially if you enjoy "coming of age" plots, centring on rich Victorian-era, English school-girls behaving badly to rebel against the rigid system they lived in. But I would recommend sticking with the book, or an UN-abriged audio version.
Date published: 2008-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Book! This book was such a good read! The characters seem very real despite the story line of magic. Gemma, the lead character, begins the book by dealing with a great loss, followed by the realization that she has special powers. After being sent to a Girls' academy she finds difficulty in confiding and becoming close with others after her tragic past. As the book continues, these very real issues continually emerge against the backdrop of magic creating a really powerful novel that is not just for younger readers.
Date published: 2008-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dark Times With a Modern Edge Although this book wasn't exactly my cup of tea I enjoyed it thoroughly. Although the book was set in rather dark times in 1895 the character have a more modern edge. In many ways the seem to be just like your average character set in modern times and yet they maintain their proper mannerisms. Had the book been more my cup of tea I probably would have enjoyed it more. I look forward to reading the rest of the series none the less and cna only hope it maintains the feel of dark times with a modern edge.
Date published: 2008-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully unique! I picked up this book over a year ago not knowing that it was allready receiving amazing reviews and 5 stars everywhere! I expected a story about a young woman living in the Victorian era in England. I had no idea the book would turn out to be a great fairytale with magical creatures and a dreamy realm. I am really glad my expectations were wrong because I read an AMAZING book! Anyone who wants to become an author should read this. Its an example of splendid literature. Libba Bray includes numerous themes but the style of writing remains understandable. The story is like nothing I've seen before and the writing defenitely allows readers to imagine every character and every setting. Read this book and you will NOT be dissapointed!
Date published: 2008-04-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh. This book was okay, but not great. Definetly written for a younger audience, which is probably why I didn't enjoy it as much as others have. I felt that the book was very rushed: one second, Gemma hates those Spence girls, the next, she's their best friend. You can't expect me to spend chapters reading about how cruel and mean they are and then accept how Gemma opens up to them about the diary and her "powers". The whole plot about the Order is fairly originaI but for some reason I really couldn't take it seriously. And the only scenes I really looked forward to were the Kartik ones; there should have been more of those! Anyway, if you're 12-14 or so, you'll probably love this book. For anyone older, it might be a bit harder to enjoy.
Date published: 2008-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from shockingly surprised.... when i first bought this book at a garage sale i wasn't expected much....but i was wrong. it's such an addictive book that you can't put this book down! i love the story and the secret romance blooming between gemma and kartik :) amazing book! love it!!
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great new voice in Victorian lit Though the story is quite obviously written for young adults, the story flows at a near-perfect pace and is incredibly engaging. The book advertises as a "curl-up-under-the-covers" kind of novel, and I'm not sure it could be described any better than. Once I started, I found myself settling in to read the whole thing. Great novel and I look forward to following Gemma's plights in the following novel.
Date published: 2008-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tooo irresistible to read wow... this book is soo amazing.. At first I don't feel reading it.. On the first night i only read about 90 pages coz i don't feel reading it.. But when i try to reaad the next pat it is soo good and I can't put it down.. I might finish it today-my second day of reading it.. I might not sleep unless i finish this book... I'm speechless.. ehhe.. I reccomend this to everybody.. The first part might be boring.. WOW<#3 Love it!!!!
Date published: 2008-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great and Beautiful Book My mom basically forced me to read this book, but as soon as I got started, I was hooked! It was definetly not what I expected, what with the realms and everything. The forbidden romance between Gemma and Kartik was one of my favourite parts! Definetly in my Top 10 reads.
Date published: 2008-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtakingly enticing Libba Bray brings to life every girl's dream of escaping the real world for fantasy. With undertones of witchcraft and classic English oppression, A Great and Terrible Beauty is a must-read teen novel.
Date published: 2007-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Reading list favorite I wasn't expecting much when I picked up this book, I honestly thought how good can it be, its for teens. My mistake, this book is amazing. I was hooked in right away. It is on so many reading lists for schools, I always recommend this first off any list. The book provides insight into life for young woman back in the day when they had no control over their lives. Four young woman attend a boarding school, they become fast friends even though they are each unique and different from eachother. There is a touch a magic, and so many ideas for a book report hidden away in this treasure. I grabbed up the second one and am awaiting the release of the third.
Date published: 2007-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Chilling adventure! I would read this book for the historical references-the suspense is an added bonus. A mystery with terrifying twists and turns, a must read for anyone who loves the supernatural.
Date published: 2007-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My All time Favorite Book!!!!!!! When my mom bought this book for me for Christmas last year my first impresion of it was that it looked long and boring. But I was so glad I read it! It was not boring at all and I wished it was longer!!!! I was hooked by the end of the first chapter! I loved the was Libba Bray explained her charectors i seriously felt like i new them! I would definitely recomend this book and the sequal to it (Rebels Angels).
Date published: 2007-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling tale This is a compelling tale that in its whirl wind of event brings you into a whole new world. Libba Bray warps fantasy and older times into one great novel. It's a very dark novel, a gripping tale, a tale of beauty, a tale of darkness, of horror. It's a magical world and the realms wait for no one, so read the book today!
Date published: 2007-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great and opposite of terrible book! I personaly have three favorite (and soon to be four) favorite books!! They are, a great and terrible beauty, rebel angels and the riddels of epsilon (soon to be 4 : sweet far thing!) The book was about a girl named Gemma Doyle. After a trgic accident in her family where she is sent to Spence and a hole new mystory unfolds! I recommend these books. When you are done Libba Bray's books you should read "The Riddles Of Epsilon"
Date published: 2007-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Completely Amazing This book was great. I could hardly put down the book. It was annoying that I had to wait for the next book to come out. The book itself is great and leaves you wanting more. I would suggest it to anyone who loves books that take place in a Victorian setting or books that keeps you in suspense almost the entire time. The book is about four girls who discover more about the world that not many people know about while discoverying more about themselves.
Date published: 2007-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Book Is Awesome I am in Love with this book. Libba Bray is a great writer! I couldn't put the book down. I actually had to hide it from myself so I would do other things than read it. You have to read it! It is awesome.
Date published: 2007-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favorite Book Ever!!!!! This book was amazing!! It is a tale of adventure, friendship and romance. Libba Bray did an amazing job of building up the charactors personalities in such a suttle but clear way! I can't wait until Libba Bray's third book comes out! Also if you like this book you would love Rebels Angels!
Date published: 2007-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Absolutly Must-Read! An astoundingly written novel, full of complex ideas about 'The Realm'. Bray has really captured the essence of what a really book is all about. Add a bit of magic, with Gothic wickedness, and a hint of spice to heat things up. Remarkable!
Date published: 2007-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!!! Oh my gosh this book is amazing!! Full of realistic characters and great discription. A dark, magical, romantic, facinating story. The only thing I would change is making it never end. This a must have, along with the second book: Rebel Angels. Books like this make reading so very pleasurable. So get comfy and start reading, you won't regret it.
Date published: 2007-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Night Time This book describes, I beleive, the very essence of darkness. It shows what it means to not know, but to be brave. Secrets. Pain. Forbidden joy. This book will make the reader understand that the dark is not good, not evil, but shrouded in mystery that will bring light into the world. Or not. You never know. Gemma discovers that things are not always as they seem. She sees people take choices that hurt her and others. What is especially remarkable is how everyone who reads this book will identify with it. It may not be comfortable, but they will.
Date published: 2007-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Spiffing! This book is FABULOUS! Gemma, a witty and wild 16 year old with strong ideas and vecious remarks is the heroine of the novel. After the mysterious murder of Gem's mother in India and the stange visions she seems to be having, poor Gem is certain she's going mad. After an expedition out into the woods, Gem thinks shes realized who she really is, much more powerful then she or anyone else would like or wish. The bold charecters of this darkly thrilling gothic add just the right flavour to the grand halls of Spence accedmy. Murder, romance, laughs and many other much darker secrets are all around, but niceties must always be observed. This book captures the darker, silent side of victorian society!
Date published: 2006-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This book was amazing! It totally wraps you into the story and the characters and you know what they are like and what they are going through because of the detailed writing the author did. It captures the imagination of teens and doesn't let it go until they are done. I would suggest this book to any girl who loves to read!
Date published: 2006-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from dark,tragic, yet beautiful!! Loved IT!! this is an awesome book!! It's about a girl who just turned 16 to discover the truth about herself and her mother. it takes place in the 19th centuery. the discribtion was so exact that i could feel the book coming to life. I've never read a book like this, it's really one of my favourites.
Date published: 2006-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BUY IT, BUY IT, BUY IT!!! "A Great and Terrible Beauty" was an excellent book. Very thought provoking. I couldn't put it down. At first i thought it wasn't going to be that great because I chose this one book out of six others that I had been dying to read. But oh how wrong i was. Reading about the lives of Gemma and her friends, decisions that they had to make. Kind of like my own, made me really realize that no matter how many years or centries go by, the trials and tribulations of teens never really change. They may get harder, but are generally the same. This book was a real page turner. If Libba Bray were to ever write a sequel, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase it.
Date published: 2006-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from an amazing book i LOVED this book!!!my friend actually reccomended it to me and now i'd reccomend to any looking for a great book to read
Date published: 2006-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bray Stirs Up A Great and Terrible Beauty for Read Libba Bray's novel, 'A Great and Terrible Beauty' is the story of Gemma Doyle, a young female teetering on the threshold of womanhood in the Victorian era, where girls are groomed all their lives to be wives. Gemma, however, wants something more, and when she discovers her own bone-chilling supernatural abilities, she realizes everything she wants may not be out of reach. Bray expertly captures life for a young woman in the Victorian era, while weaving into her dark plot the completely familiar uncertainty of adolescence, the pressures of cliques and social hierarchies; and a message for her reader: each girl has a power of her own to discover and own - not hide behind what you are told you should be. ‘A Great and Terrible Beauty’ is both perfectly chilling and enlightening. Though Bray's novel is set realistically in the nineteenth century, she gives each character a feeling of modernity and depth exposing an inner-conflict in each girl completely relatable to modern day society. For example, Felicity's hunger for power and longing for approval from her parents, Pippa's dreams of true love and pressure to cast away those dreams in order to do what is considered honorable and right. Or Ann's desperate need to be accepted and noticed along with her desire to be more beautiful, but most of all loved. Lastly, Gemma struggles with feelings of guilt for a secret she cannot share lest she be labeled and shunned by her peers and family. Bray does not hesitate to highlight the fact that women with power are and have been generally feared throughout history. Through Miss Moore’s blunt explanation of this sad fact, Gemma’s subtle revelations, and Felicity’s demonstration of this power, this is definitely a prominent theme in the book. Overall, I would say Bray has created a work of genius. This book should be celebrated and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a creepy, magical, mysterious, heartfelt adventure.
Date published: 2006-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just one more page, Then i'll go to bed! This book is one that will keep you up all night, you just cant let go, in your head you'll be saying just one more page then I’ll go to bed, but once you turn that page you pulled in again to find that your saying the same thing until it's nearly morning or you're almost done the book, and you tell yourself you'll get a better start on reading it in the morning. "A Great and Terrible Beauty" is one of those books that keeps you drawn in, with the mysterious Kartik, (Gemma’s protector and possible crush), and Wondering What exactly happened to Marry Doyle and the East wing at Spence... When the Mystery is finally revealed will it be what you expected, or will it be a complete surprise? You'll have to find out!
Date published: 2006-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unforgetable When i first started to read this book i found it a little frightening, but the more i read the more enticing it was. It is one of those books you just can't put down it sucks you in and holds your attention. It's a great book for those who love magic, dark forces, and fears. However this is not only a scary book with spells in it, it also gives you an insite to the lives of girls and women in the victorian ages, a little history thrown in with this wonderful and unforgetable tale. This book has a little romance, some frights and delights, it was amazing and i can't wait to read the second one, Rebel Angels!!
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a must have for any age This has to be one of the best books ever. I am a 19 year old avid reader and I love this book. My mom read and loved this book. My 15 year old sister who isn't very interested in reading read this book and promptly asked to read the sequal. My copy has been read so much it soon needs replacing. It is one of those books you can't put down until you finish it. when it is finished you wish it wasn't. No matter what age you are or whether you love reading or not, this is a book to read and enjoy.
Date published: 2006-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Young adults need books too! As a teacher I am constantly looking for books that are exciting to read for young adults. It sometimes is a hard job to do. There are tons of books for children and adults but until recently there was a gap for teenagers. We want the students to enjoy the classics but first they have learn to love to read and this books does that. It draws the reader in from the very first chapter. Teenagers girls will love this book. This book is smart and funny and one must go out and buy the sequel to find out what happens!
Date published: 2006-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brillant!! Well I have to say that this is one of my FAVOURITE books!! It just keeps you wanting more! It's a dark deep story, but with creative plot twists. It also has it's well deserved light and happy parts with Kartik, ahhhh.... and all the many jokes and things that go on between the order. The only book I've ever read faster than this one is a Harry Potter!! You hp fans know that it must be good, a single day, not even was all it took me!!If you thought this one was good wait till you read the next one.
Date published: 2006-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a beautifully written, though dark, tale This story takes place in a time when a girls husband was chosen for her, and true love was more then hard to find. Gemma, living in India for most if not all of her 16-year-old life, is shipped off to the Spence Academy in England to begin her lessons after her mother was killed. While there, she befriends 3 girls, and becomes wrapped up in one of the most bizarre tales ever imagined, all the while being followed by a mysterious boy, who might know exactly what happened to her mother in India. Full of plot twists and beautifully written words, this book is a must read for anyone at all interested in a different sort of world.
Date published: 2006-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful this book was amazing. i couldn't believe the intricacy of the book. it had mystery, magic and a hint of romance. it captivated me and taught me so much. amazing fun, fast paced read. it even starts with a hit. had me laughing and crying. must buy, must read, must share!
Date published: 2006-06-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great read for anyone looking for an adventure! This book was a good read for teens . It was different , amusing, and insightful. it explores the life of victorian women with wit and charm. Although this book wasn't incredibly fast pace, it was interesting enogh that it kept you wanting more. I've heard that the second book , rebel angels, is supposed to be even better.
Date published: 2006-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievably Amazing This is an unbelievable book, that tought be about 'believing'. Haha. I loved it It so gothic and horryfying.. yet I constantly crave for more. I dream about this book regularly, in spite of its terror, and beauty. I love how it set in this finnishing school with secrets, like inscriptions in caves.. and the Order. I am looking forwars to reading Rebel Angels, the companion to this truly amazing book. If you are one who enjoy the mystery of history, indulge yourself in Spence, the school, of beauty grace and charm! Monika :)
Date published: 2006-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING! "A Great and Terrible Beauty" is a must read! It's amazing!
Date published: 2006-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG this is the best book ever. I read it in two days, and got the next book the very next day. It rocks. I definately reccomend it to anyone who likes to read, and believes in the supernatural and hidden powers.
Date published: 2006-06-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome I would recommend reading this book because the sequel to it is awesome. To read Rebel Angels(the sequel) you must read this one first to understand everythign. It is a great pair of books to read! You will not want to put it down,so make sure you leave yourself alot of free tome to read it. Great read for the summer when your lying in your backyard trying to get some sun!
Date published: 2006-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow Oh my gosh! How to explain such a maginicent book. I'm 14 and love reading and I must say that this is one of my favourites. As a matter of fact I just bought the second one tonight!! This story really does captivate you unlike many books. It brings you close to the real Gemma Doyle, her troubles fears and dreams(even about Kartick) But I loved this book.
Date published: 2006-05-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great beauty of a book!! First off I would like to say that I am 30 yrs old and that I adore books. Although this book is rated "teen" I have to say this is one of the best books in its class (fantasy/supernatural) to date. Gemma is smart, strong & willful (qualities I admire in women) and nicely written. The underlying messages and social commentaries (many of which are unfortunatly still applicable today) are what really got me. Being a mother, I found certain parts more heartbreaking (poor Pippa), especially when you realize many of the situations concerning Victorian attitudes about how to raise girls were true. Truly a nice book for everyone especially young women. Bravo to Ms. Bray and I can't wait to read the sequels.
Date published: 2006-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book This book was by far one of the best books I've ever read. The author captured the time era perfectly. It was very hard to put down. I would definatly read it again.
Date published: 2006-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A MUST READ!! I really enjoyed this book. Reading it gave me a fascinating view into the Victorian era and how young women were expected to behave. Since the book is written in first person it feels as if you are right there with Gemma, as she discovers secrets and solves mysteries. The gothic, chilling, and suspenseful aspects of the book make it even more interesting to read. Can't wait to the the next one, Rebel Angels! YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK! 10 out of 10!!
Date published: 2006-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Like nothing I could a Envisioned This is one of the few books I can now say I couldn’t put. I felt connected to the girls as if I was part of their Order. A Grate and Terrible Beauty is nothing you expect it to be. It is compelling, thought provoking, enchanting and dare I say it magical in every way imaginable and more importantly in ways unimaginable. Libba I tip my hat to you and your great accomplishment with this book.
Date published: 2006-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificant! this book taught me a different approach to life. i found that not all stories end in perfect happy endings and not all end the way you thought. i feel the Libba showed a brilliant way of connecting each of the girls to one another, even if they were very different. I LOVED THIS BOOK!
Date published: 2005-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great and Terrible Beauty A very well written book but I think it should have a little bit more detail in some parts. Other than that, I enjoyed reading about Gemma and her friends from Spence and can't wait to read the sequel.
Date published: 2005-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Astounding A Great and Terrible Beaty was one of the best books I've ever read. The characters were amazing, and so was the setting. Set at an English finishing school, one girl descovers who she really is, and how much more fascinating her life is. She is placed with a great task and learns to aknowledge her significant talent. This novel is intricately interwoven. A fast pace book that puts a whole new meaning on fantasy. A must read.!
Date published: 2005-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Modern Girl in an Old World A Great and Terrible Beauty is an intoxicating mix of victorian culture and a modern teenager trying to be a young lady. Gemma Doyle is refreshingly normal with a great power in magic who just wants to fit in. She's not just normal though because she shows amazing creativity and has the urge to protect and include. Throw in that she's discoverring love for the first time, her fathers sick, the rest of her family dosen't care about her, and a strict boarding school and you have the recipe for amazing. This story could have takken place today, btu is made even more enchanting by the Victorean culture. Please take into consideration that i am a fifteen year old girl that loves romantic stories drizzled with magic. I would liek to say though that even so i am a very accomplished reader that enjoys almost all geners and yet this book has been read six times in one week. With how many books are in the world this is to much time to spend on one book and yet i can't help it.
Date published: 2005-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WONDERFUL omg,this book is great....everynight i go to sleepi stay up reading it....4.hours past my bedtime...im reading.Romance,history,boys,comedy,suspence,mystery and scary visions!this book is great and my favorite book.Read this ppl!!!its great!!!READ IT READ IT READ IT!!!!!!just one chapter...no one page....u'll be hooked on it.
Date published: 2005-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY I found this book in the teen section of the store which is unsual because I am a grandmother and I shop in the adult section. I thoroughy enjoyed this book. I even passed it on to friends who loved it. So parents and grandparents if you see this book and think it is only for teens you will miss a great read.
Date published: 2005-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING!!!! My mom actually recommended this one, so I was a bit apprehensive, but I was surprised!!! It had adventure, comedy, history, tradgedy, magic, suspense, and romance, PLUS a brave and strong main female character! Basically EVERYTHING! Definitely one of my favourite books.... If you're a teen who likes romance, I sure do, fantasy or adventure it is a MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date published: 2005-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow This book seemed to catch my eye in a few book stores so I decided to buy it. From the beggining I was captured and it was all I could do to put the book down. The descriptions are amazing and you feel like you can see what they are seeing. Libba Bray is amazingly gifted. There are so many parts in the book where Gemma just captures your heart. This girl has something amazing inside her...........a real gift. And so does Libba Bray! I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to have thier breath taken away!!!
Date published: 2005-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Read This book is truly a fascinating read. The plot and characters are both captivating and riveting. Gemma Doyle is a strong, bright and intriguing character. Highly recommended for anyone looking for an excellent read. Can't wait until the sequel, Rebel Angels, is released on August 23, 2005.
Date published: 2005-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic! This was an amazing book! i read loads of books, and this one is one of my favorites!! Libba Bray is truly a great author! i love books with magic and this one has lots of that, i can't wait to read more of the adventures of Gemma in the next book, Rebel Angels! i hope it comes out soon!!!!!
Date published: 2005-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This book was fantastic. Gemma is such a strong, courageous person. The plot is amazing and the characters are believable. This an amazing book and I can't wait for the second one. Read this book.
Date published: 2005-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pure brilliance! This book has many profound ideas, and wraps you up completely. I found it to be very in-depth, making it seem as if you're there with the characters. You feel what they feel, see what they see, and do what they do. It was very well written, and any female teen who likes exciting, diary-like stories will enjoy it.
Date published: 2005-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Food for Thought! This book was amazing. It completely sucked me in! (i finished it in a day!) Gemma is a strong, and amazing character. I love her. She is so mysterious. The plot is fantastical, but is so believable. I love it. A Great Read!!!! You have to get it and explore the myteries of her world. Can't wait for the sequel Rebel Angels!
Date published: 2005-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deliciously Entertaining From the moment I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. When I finally got it, I read it in a few days. Words cannot describe how amazing this book was; it was one of a kind. I simply could not put the book down. My advice: get this book right now! In case it is of any interest to you, this book is part of a planned trilogy with the sequel 'Rebel Angels' coming in March 2005.
Date published: 2005-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A True Masterpeice This was by far the best book I've read, the conquest of a young woman's life by terrible visions creates sort of an unthought idea that one doesn't usually think about while reading. It was lush and beautiful, so great that I cried at the end of the book.
Date published: 2004-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! This is a book that all teenage girls should definately read, especially if they like stories that take place in the Victorian period mixed up with a little bit of fantasy! The atmosphere of finishing school in London, England is described with great detail- it makes you feel like you're actually there! A must read!
Date published: 2004-07-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from **Amazed** A Great and Terrible Beauty is and wonderful book that I could not put down .The description of it on the jacket does not do it justice. When I first picked it up and looked at the title I thought it would by about a beautiful girl but after reading the book I realized it was way more insightful then that,I think its about that everything is beautiful for a while but it won't stay that way forever. People should really give this book a chance because I think it has the potental to beome a classic. The only thing I wish the author would have done was write more about Gemma and Kartiks relationship because you know they like each other. This book has everything Death,Magic,Love,Decete.
Date published: 2004-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brillant! A Great and Terrible Beauty was an entrancing book I couldn't put down and read it twice in a row for sheer delight. Already I have a couple of friends lined up to borrow it, and it is an excellent read for someone with a liking of history and magic.
Date published: 2004-05-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Okk............. This book was alright. I read it quickly, as i do with most books, but was disappointed. The description on the back makes it seem really good, but it was in fact quite boring. The magic was cheesy and it wasn't really much of mystery. I recommend it but don't have very high expectations.
Date published: 2004-04-20

– More About This Product –

A Great and Terrible Beauty

by Libba Bray

Format: Kobo Edition (eBook)

Published: December 9, 2003

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0375890491

ISBN - 13: 9780375890499

From the Publisher

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?


From the Hardcover edition.