Editorial Reviews. Review. A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy Book 1) by [Bray. Audible Sample. Audible Sample. Playing. Libba Bray (Author). Free summary and analysis of the events in Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty that won’t make you snore. We promise. by Libba Bray A Great and Terrible Beauty is young adult fiction, which we know because it Bray’s first book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy is a page-turner.

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A Great and Terrible Beauty Book Review

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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. In this debut gothic novel mysterious visions, dark family secrets and a long-lost diary thrust Gemma and her classmates back into the horrors that followed her from India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, an In this debut gothic novel mysterious visions, dark family secrets and a long-lost diary thrust Gemma and her classmates back into tertible horrors that followed her from India.

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 s followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

Hardcoverpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Great and Terrible Beautyplease sign up. Is this a good book? Karen Kimbrough I wasn’t sure at first if I liked it or not.

It’s not as as full of the supernatural as the books I’m used to, but I kept reading.

I was attracted to …more I wasn’t sure at first if I liked it or not. I was attracted to the themes of coming-of-age, tragedy, and the idea of bullies yerrible the Victorian era. It was high-fashion to be “into” elegant paranormal, so these young girls delving into something “more” was gothic yet cute? They didn’t know what they were doing. If you’re looking for a scary novel, this really isn’t it, but if something more intellectual, more like an old-fashioned ‘s movie is to your liking; you’ll like it.

I mean it’s written so that a teen would understand it, but it’s not just full of blood either. It is rather sad most of the time though. Despite that, I did like it.

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Has this book got much romance? Becky Yes, but it is a slow delicious build. Much better than Twilight’s Edward in my opinion. See all 11 questions about A Great and Terrible Beauty…. Lists with This Book.

Oct 14, honestly mem rated it did not like it Greatt A Great and Bfauty Beauty is terrrible great nor beautiful, though it is indeed — wait for it! The characters are simple and one-dimensional, their actions both petty and selfish.

I find it difficult to believe any one of the four girls at the heart of the story cared for one another, much less anyone else. The story meanders, often digressing into lengthy passages that do little if anything to advance the characters or the story. As the story progresses, drawing to its predictable A Great and Terrible Beauty is neither great nor beautiful, though it is indeed terrlble wait for it!


As the story progresses, drawing to its predictable and dissatisfying conclusion, it becomes clear that Ms Bray has mistaken style for subtance and that her prose is not stylish enough to support this belief. Most offensive, however, is the racial and sexual content within the book.

The male lead a young man from India is sexualized and fetishized for his “exotic” appearance and culture; other Indian characters are shown as either submissive or violent. The Romani people wandering the schoolgrounds suffer from even greater stereotyping: Her treatment of the female characters is also questionable. Though these Victorian girls wander about with decidedly un-Victorian sensibilities and though Ms Bray makes a weak attempt to decry the injustices of a society so quick to condemn the expression of feminine sexuality, the story itself does not support this modern take on the Victorian era.

The girls submit to their male counterparts or pine helplessly from a distance. Sexual and romantic relationships between men and women often contain obvious and disturbing power imbalances or violent undertones. The relationship between the four girls is emotionally shallow and deeply petty, motivated by mutual dislike and composed of backstabbing and bullying tactics. S though Ms Bray is quick to condemn the indignities and horrors of an arranged marriage, she is also quick to condemn her protagonists when they dare to act instead of react.

It’s a confusing mix of self-righteous pulpit pounding and misogyny, with the end result being Tetrible wanted to put my fist through the admittedly lovely and eyecatching cover.

My one relief is that I had the sense to borrow this from the library instead of buying it outright. I do not recommend it. View all 88 comments.

Jun 26, Regan rated it liked it Shelves: View all 22 comments. This book is what it is: That said, it’s a very good one. You can libbx the summary on the book’s page, so I won’t go into that here. I loved the juxtaposition of Victorian England, colonial India, and the fairy world. The protagonist doesn’t belong in any of them, and she recognizes that, which sets up the whole story: I didn’t care for any of the other main characters, mostly because I felt that the protagonist, Gemma, was treading on thin This book is what it is: I didn’t care for any of the other main characters, mostly because I felt that the protagonist, Gemma, was treading on thin ice by being friends with them.

I liked Gemma – I’ve read reviews that said she was selfish, angry, and petty, and she can be – but what sixteen-year-old isn’t? The friendship between Gemma and the other three girls is based on a desire for freedom as well as the tenuous sharing of secrets – I don’t think the girls were ever meant to appear as the best of friends, even on a good day, so the reviews that criticize the friendship being shallow puzzle me.

I thought the story flowed really well and terrile enough twists and turns to keep me guessing – it’s also a really quick read and I was sorry when it ended as soon as it did. The visits to the fairy realm were really a delight to read – pure escapism for the characters as well as the reader. And not without a dark edge. Finally, it bay a little racy, which I thought was pretty awesome for a YA novel.

It’s hard to write a teenage sexual awakening while so much other stuff is going on, especially without being sordid, cheesy, or flowery. Bray does this really well – and the male love interest is your typical aloof, charming, vaguely dangerous, devastatingly hot, man-of-few-words character.


I can hear the swoons of teenage girls everywhere. Hell, even I sighed once or twice. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next two books in this series.

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) by Libba Bray

View all 8 comments. May 20, Emily May rated it really liked it Shelves: I don’t know why for so long I just assumed I wouldn’t like historical fiction, it’s not as if I don’t love history – I picked it for one of my A levels in college.

But, I guess it’s just one of those genres that sounds tedious and you imagine it to be all oppressed sexuality and prim and properness. Diana Gabaldon forever changed my mind with her oversexed and aggressive depiction of history and it was only a matter of time before I looked towards other works of historical fiction.

This book is I don’t know why for so long I just assumed I wouldn’t like historical fiction, it’s not as if I don’t love history livba I picked it for terribke of my A levels in college. This book is both everything I expected and also everything I didn’t expect.

It’s set beauyy the most part in a boarding school for educating girls in the art of being ‘ladies’, or in other words: The girls were expected to be reserved, polite and, most importantly, beautiful.

This I was prepared for. I was also prepared for the customs, superstitions and blatant sexism of the times. However, it never occurred to me that this novel would be simply a 19th century take on a modern school. There’s gossiping, bitchiness and bullying of those who are different in this case, from a lower class. It’s a good dose of chick lit as well as a historical book. This novel completely transcends genres and does it well.

I didn’t see the whole other-realm mysticality thing coming but I loved it. The gypsies are awesome as well, we have crazy ans, fake fortune-telling I-speak-with-dead-people gypsies, sexy gypsies don’t believe the rumours, 19th century girls didn’t just lie back and think of England.

And that’s another thing I liked: It may not be the most reliable source, the book was written in modern times, but it’s easy to imagine that beneath the surface of Victorian society’s repressed sexuality, girls probably did talk about ‘having’ thousands of men: Earls, Dukes, Barons, Princes Anyway, lost myself on a smutty tangent.

I was saying that I liked the idea of weaving fantasy into history, I’m all for spicing up times gone by. I didn’t give it 5 stars because it wasn’t quite up there with my other 5 star rated books. I liked it, I loved the many different elements that made the novel hard to categorise and I liked the characters. I always like it when things aren’t just as livba as “she’s a bitch” and “she’s a freak” in any kind of genre.

I liked how, even though Gemma lost her mother at the beginning, the relationship grdat still built up throughout. I liked that the protagonist wasn’t a pushover, even more so because the novel setting was in a very sexist society.