A Great and Terrible Beauty Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Great and Terrible Beauty

Gemma Doyle is a sixteen-year-old British girl living in India with her mother and father. The tension and nerves that have been building up come to a surface during the first chapter of the book, and Gemma and her mother get into a huge argument because Gemma wants to go back to England and her mother wants her to stay in India. They promptly run into a young boy Gemma's age and an older man, and something he says to Gemma's mother throws her into a state of panic, insisting that Gemma return home at once. A wounded Gemma runs off and becomes lost in the twisting, confusing streets of India. Coming face to face with the young Indian boy again, he corners her right before she falls into a most disturbing vision. Awakening, she runs at a mad dash to find her mother, and she succeeds... her mother is found dead inside a small Indian shop, and the events of her death hold a chilling relation to Gemma's vision.
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In an ironic twist of fate, Gemma is sent to England to attend a boarding school called Spence Academy for Young Ladies. She quickly makes a friend in her roommate Ann and falls into the bad graces of the school's most powerful clique, the two leaders of which later befriend Gemma and Ann. The strange Indian boy, Kartik, keeps on appearing and warning Gemma to close her mind to the visions, for bad things will happen to those that she loves if she doesn't. Stumbling across the diary of the mysterious Mary Dowd, Gemma reads more and more about a girl who shared her own powers and belonged to a mystical group of women called the Order, whose leader was Spence's own original headmistress. Gemma is desperate to find out what it was that killed her mother, exactly what her powers are and why there were given to her, and fighting the unexpected feelings for Kartik.
The review of this Book prepared by Rachel Knorr

      Gemma Doyle is not your average young lady of her time. Living in the 19th century in London, England, girls are expected to remember their station. Gemma is quite the opposite and spends her time sneeking around at night and stealing the pastor's wine at her all female bording school.

    Gemma is sent to boarding school when her mother dies while she is living in India. When Gemma moves to London she notices a man she once met in India following her. When Gemma starts getting strange visions, she is warned by the mysterious man to ignore them. Gemma does for a while, until her curiosity gets the better of her. She is taken to another world when she has her visions. In her visions, she can talk to her dead mother.

    Soon enough though, things turn dangerous and results in one of Gemma's close friends dying. Gemma is forced to stop visiting the realms and has to figure out how to fix things and make the mysterious man she fancies forgive her.
The review of this Book prepared by Savana

The visions start when Gemma's mother is killed by a strange shadowy creature- Gemma witnesses every moment of her death, even though she isn't there.

Then, she is shipped off to a boarding school in London. Gemma, who has not been taught more than the most basic social graces, has trouble fitting in at the prim and proper Spence Academy- a situation which is not helped by the fact that she is still having visions, whether she wants to or not... and the mysterious young man who is following her around and telling her that she must stop her premonitions somehow.

But it is there that Gemma meets Felicity, Pippa, and Ann, all of whom- like Gemma- dream of being something more than the rich men's wives and socialites that everyone expects them to be. And all of them- like Gemma- have secrets that, if ever discovered, would mark them as undesirable, abnormal, unfit to be ladies of quality.

And Spence Academy has secrets of its own... dark secrets linked to a twenty-year-old tragedy and a mysterious diary that Gemma found in the woods. The diary of a girl named Mary who had powers much like Gemma's own...

The review of this Book prepared by Emma

Chapter Analysis of A Great and Terrible Beauty

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 16.7%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 26.7%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 26.7% Tone of book    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy world/fantasy past Coming of age    -   Yes Youngster becomes    -   a powerful magician Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Family relations    -   Yes

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Age:    -   a teen If magical mental powers:    -   can see into the future


Terrain    -   Forests Earth setting:    -   19th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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