But A Great and Terrible Beauty was just so good I shouldn t have doubted Ms Bray It had so many great things going for it, with the Victorian setting, mysterious death of the main character s mother, supernatural elements, and rebellious, lovable narrator, Gemma Doyle.
Seriously, this book was too much fun, while also taking a look at serious historical facts, such as how many young girls were bred to be the wives of rich men during this time even if the men were thirty years older Gemma was a fantastic narrator she grew up in India until her mother s sudden death forced her to come to England and attend a young ladies boarding school.
At Spence Academy Gemma befriends three girls and they start their own secret club, but when Gemma finds out she possess supernatural powers from her mother, it changes everything.
The writing was wonderful the friendships between the well developed characters Gemma, Felicity, Pippa, and Ann were hilarious and sometimes vicious in the way that teenage girls can be They were expected to behave like proper ladies, but these wild girls were the complete opposite and were desperate to escape constricting corsets, French lessons, and everyone telling them what not to do.
I became so absorbed in this world the Victorian era felt like something supernatural in itself, with the claustrophobic rules of Spence Academy Gemma s mysterious family legacy, the strange boy who kept showing up in her bedroom, and the diary of a dead girl she discovered drove the plot until I felt like I was living in it I just love when stories do that when I become so invested in them they seem to come to life, and for a short while I m a part of that world.
A gothic, Victorian paranormal that focused on a young woman during a time where she didn t seem to fit into the social rules It was a fun, clever, and female empowering storyI think I m beginning to understand why those ancient women had to hide in caves Why our parents and teachers and suitors want us to behave properly and predictably It s not that they want to protect us it s that they fear us Boarding school stories are f a s c i n a t i n g A pitiful review, but two exams tomorrow so I can t give you dear reader O 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 Ages It S , And After The Suicide Of Her Mother, 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 Okay, so I was a little slow discovering this, but since Rebel Angels just came out, I figured I would read the first in the series first The novel can best be described as Gothic fantasy Lots of Victorian atmosphere and ruminations about the claustrophobic restrictions on women in that time period, combined with a good portion of magic and mystery I loved Bray s sense of humor It saved the novel from becoming top heavy or melodramatic The ending didn t quite work as well for me as the rest of the book, but perhaps I was simply reading too fast by that point I would recommend it to teen girls, say 13 Be aware, there was a definite erotic edge to the book No so than Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but it s worth mentioning.
Shall I tell you a story A new and terrible one A ghost story Are you ready Shall I begin Once upon a time there were four girls One was pretty.
One was clever.
One charming, and one One was mysterious But they were all damaged, you see Something not right about the lot of them Bad blood Big dreams Oh, I left that part out Sorry, that should have come before They were all dreamers, these girls.
One by one, night after night,the girls came together And they sinned Do you know what that sin was Their sin was that they believed Believed they could be different Special They believed they could change what they were damaged, unloved.
Cast off things They would be alive, adored,needed Necessary But it wasn t true This is a ghost story, remember A tragedy.
They were misled Betrayed by their own stupid hopes Things couldn t be different for them, because they weren t special after all So life took them, led them, and they went along, you see They faded before their own eyes, till they were nothing than living ghosts, haunting each other with what could be What can t be.
There, now Isn t that the scariest story you ve ever heard Buddy read with some amazing ladies and a traveling book, hosted by Julie over at Pages and Pens A Great and Terrible Beauty is exactly why I am scared to read earlier decade s published novels that I remember were super hyped and popular This also reads just like an early 2000s novel, with all the problematic content being there The basic premise of this book is a young girl named Gemma Doyle, is whisked away to a London boarding school after the death of her mother Before her mother s death, she is given a necklace and she is forced to realize that she is way important and special than she ever thought She s the hero that can heal the realms and save the world Then, at the boarding school that is meant to turn these girls into desirable young ladies to be married off, Gemma falls into a group with three other girls Basically, the four girls start out like the cast of Mean Girls Gemma Cady, Felicity Regina, Pippa Gretchen, Ann Karen and events quickly escalate to them becoming the cast of The Craft Gemma Sarah, Felicity Nancy, Pippa Rochelle, Ann Bonnie Also, let the record state that I absolutely love Mean Girls and The Craft and this book is lesser in every single aspect, but the parallels are there This book is extremely racist and homophobic, but it s painted in a way that says, This is just how it was back in 1895 and it feels extremely bad to read And even though this is supposed to be a book about four friends coming together and forming a secret order, I feel like the term friends should be used very loosely There is so much catty girl hate in this book, that I truly believe my younger self would have hated this just as much in 2005 if I read it.
And the fat shaming is constant It actually grosses me out to think about how many people read this book, read all these terrible and hurtful passages vilifying girls because they aren t stick thin, and thought this book was okay And how this book handles self harm is always disgusting Also, to touch upon the racism , the male love interest is from India and is constantly fetishized for being not white His exoticness is constantly brought up and Gemma is shamed by herself and her peers for liking him Also, the word G psy is used constantly, and the Romani people in general are one big stereotype that is painful to read There are also a ton of misogynistic comments, but the book tries to battle those a bit I ve had many people tell me that Libba Bray is a feminist writer, but this is the perfect example of what white feminism looks like Like, this was a fucking mess And a late 1800s setting doesn t excuse it Trigger warnings for self harm, suicide, murder, animal cruelty, substance abuse and everything offensive under the sun As for positive things I can say, I will say that this was an extremely fast read Even with this being 400 pages, I read this quickly within two days And each chapter does end in a way that makes you want to read I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of this book, especially during the Halloween season It s a super old and creepy boarding school, with mysteries and magic surrounding it constantly I mean, the setting was eerie and amazing And even though nothing much happens until the last 100 pages, this book still feels spooky.
This is just my personal opinion, and I hope you all will respect that Also, if this is one of your favorite books then I am happy you found enjoyment from it Overall, for me, I was super disappointed to read this Especially because this was my first time participating in a traveling book club But it is what it is, and I will never support a book with this much problematic and offensive content, regardless the year it was published This book should just be renamed to A Terrible Gemma Doyle Blog Twitter Tumblr Instagram Youtube Twitch 4.
5 Libba Bray never seems to disappoint and this was no exception I really loved this one I love the time period and all the witchiness and the characters were awesome, it was great According to the author, this is a story about an English girl named Gemma who sees things A girl with a dead mother, a lot of guilt, strange friends and a mysterious destiny To me, it was a story about a strong willed teen who felt alone in the world I specifically used the word teen to denote a person whose life inexperience causes her to make impulsive decisions not all bad, mind you but implusive nonetheless.
The story is set in Victorian era England, a period in time where a girl s greatest hope was supposed to be to marry well read money Well born girls were trained to smile and be proper no matter what and, eventually, lie back and think of EnglandThey were mislead Betrayed by their own stupid hopes Things couldn t be different for them because they weren t special after all So life took them, led them, and they went along, you see They faded before their own eyes till they were nothing than living ghosts, haunting each other with what could be, what can t be So, while this is a story that is centered around Gemma finding a diary that reveals the secrets of the mystical Order , I found it to be character driven And I mean that in the best way I loved getting to know Gemma, Felicity, Pippa and Ann and seeing their friendship change and grow when, through a magical realm, they were able to experience the desires of their hearts.
QUOTES I LOVEThey see her differently now As somebody And isn t that what everyone wants To be seen What if I am damaged We re all damaged somehow You can never really know someone completely That s why it s the most terrifying thing in the world, really, taking someone on faith, hoping they ll take you on faith, too It s such a precarious balance It s a wonder we do it at all And yet I ve heard it said that God is in the details It s the same with the truth Leave out the details, the crucial heart, and you can damn someone with the bare bones of it But forgiveness I ll hold on to that fragile slice of hope and keep it close, remembering that in each of us there lies good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice We re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real We ve got to forgive ourselves that In every end there is also a beginning And with that, I look forward to reading Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing Thank you, Libba Bray.
This book is what it is a young adult novel.
That said, it s a very good one You can read 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 the outsider tries to find her niche.
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 meanwell, yeah, right I thought the story flowed really well and had 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 was 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.
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 both everything I expected and also everything I didn t expect It s set for the most part in a boarding school for educating girls in the art of being ladies , or in other words wives 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 And that s before we ve even gotten to the whole magic fantasy aspect 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 gypsies, 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 the exploration of the girls sexualities behind closed doors 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 simple 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 was still built up throughout I liked that the protagonist wasn t a pushover, even so because the novel setting was in a very sexist society And I love anything with dreams and or visions.