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*Read Kindle á A Great and Terrible Beauty à 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 Don t you ever speak to me that way again, I snarl I am no longer content to be the scared, obedient schoolgirl Who are you, a stranger, to tell me what I can and cannot do Wow, this was such a pleasant surprise If you don t know, The Diviners by Libba Bray is one of my favorite books ever So you can imagine I had my doubts that a book written many years earlier by the author would live up to it.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 A Great and Terrible Beauty is neither great nor beautiful, though it is indeed wait for it terrible.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 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 the men are portrayed as slovenly, ignorant, and sexually aggressive towards the white schoolgirls the women are docile and suitably mystical 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 And 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 I 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. 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.