October 03, 09
First Quarter Outside Reading Book Review
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Delacorte Press, 2003. Genre: Fiction
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray is a story of love, friendship, and magic all mixed together into one thrilling book. Taking place during the Victorian period, Gemma, age sixteen, is sent to
“A Victorian boarding school, a gothic mansion mystery, a gossip romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other worldly fantasy – jumbled together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.” - Amazon.com review
A Great and Terrible Beauty shows Gemma as she tries to fit in at Spence with all the other girls. She had almost no luck until she finds Felicity together with a Gypsy boy named Ithal. Felicity made Gemma promise to tell no one, and that was the beginning of their friendship. Pippa, upset that Gemma has taken her place as Felicity’s best friend, or so she thought, tries to exclude her out of their group and becomes closer to Ann. Bray creates a realistic situation in which jealousy leads to detest for another. It draws the reader’s attention because they can easily connect with it. Bray also uses sarcasm in Gemma’s thought which adds humor throughout the book. The reader can also accurately picture the Victorian age, where girls were brought up to be possessions for the lives of rich men, thanks to her vivid descriptions.
“Maybe it’s the steady downpour that’s driving me mad. Maybe it’s the thought of lovely Pippa, married off to a man she doesn’t love, who doesn’t love her, only wants to acquire her. Maybe it’s imagining Ann squelching her voice to work for pompous aristocrats and their hateful children. Or Felicity trying to hold back her tears. Maybe it’s that every word that she said is true.” (315)
This is the first book I read by Libba Bray. I loved A Great and Terrible Beauty. It shows me how the life of the girls was and how they were treated like possession, not someone to love. I thought it was interesting the way people thought at that time.