Gemma Doyle, sixteen and proud, must leave the warmth of her childhood home in India for the rigid Spence Academy, a cold finishing school outside of London, followed by a stranger who bears puzzling warnings. Using her sharp tongue and agile mind, she navigates the stormy seas of friendship with high-born daughters and her roommate, a plain scholarship case. As Gemma discovers that her mother's mysterious death may have an otherworldly cause, and that she herself may have innate powers, Gemma is forced to face her own frightening, yet exciting destiny . . . if only she can believe in it.
What i thought: My sister bought this book, but never actually READ it, so i simply picked it up. . . and began reading. A Great and Terrible Beauty is one of the most beautiful historical and gothic novels I have read in a really long time. The story enthralled me from beginning to end. There are many unexpected twists throughout the novel. A Great and Terrible Beauty is the sort of novel that you cannot put down because there are so many elements, so manyLAYERS that make the novel so suspensefull and exciting.
I loved the backdrop of Victorian England and Libba Bray easily showed the way women were viewed and what was expected from them in those times. The female characters spoke volumes about this particularly difficult time period for women. Pippa's desire to meet the perfect prince touched me. She is a very flawed character, but with dreams and desires that spoke to me. Felicity is also quite complex. She was a loyal friend and an innocent at times and was cruel, despicable and disturbing in others. Gemma is a great heroine. She had the sort of confusions and issues that girls at present time could definitely relate to. There was a naive tenor to her voice that made her all the more compelling.
The gothic aspect of the novel is the perfect complement for the time setting. The horror aspect of the novel could be chilling at times. The story became very fanciful about halfway through the novel, but the elements of magic in those scenes were very well done. I fell in love with this book and Libba Bray seems quite an interesting author. There are loose ends at the finish of the novel, that easily tell you there will be a second novel, and make you beg for more. I recommend A Great and Terrible Beauty most highly.
If you like this book, i would reccomend Rebel Angels , the second novel in this fantastic series, and The Sweet and Far Thing, the riveting conclusion to this trilogy. These books are JUST as good as the first, if not better. Rate it HIGH!