Gemma Doyle isn’t like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who remember their station, who dance with grace, and who will lie back and think of England when it’s required of them.
No, sixteen –year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds her reception a chilly one. She’s not completely alone though…she’s been followed by a mysterious young man, sent to warn her to close her mind against the visions.
For it’s at Spence that Gemma’s power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school’s most powerful girls and discovers her mother’s connection to a shadowy, timeless group called the Order. It’s there that her destiny waits…if only Gemma can believe in it.
When I first began reading this novel, I thought it was going to be historical fiction set in Victorian times. In many ways it is. It is a detailed picture of the strict Victorian moral code. There is the concept of young ladies of status being prepared for marriage. They must learn how to be a proper Victorian wife to their husbands. Anything remotely scandalous is simply not permitted.
However, after the first chapter, one realizes that this book is so much more than just historical fiction. A Great and Terrible Beauty has unspeakable tragedy, mystery, intrigue, secrets and even a little magic. The universal theme of good vs. evil runs throughout this novel. I was unable to put this book down from the very first page. If you are a lover of fantasy set in an historical period, then I strongly recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed!