A Great and Terrible Beauty Book Summary, Ending, Quotes & Review 2024

A Great and Terrible Beauty Book Summary, Ending, Quotes & Review 2024
Julia Scheeres
Julia Scheeres She/Her - Journalist/Book Author/Cat Mom May 28, 2024

A Great And Terrible Beauty is about a young girl named Gemma Doyle who discovers her supernatural powers within a strict Victorian boarding school. As she explores her abilities, she uncovers dark secrets that lie within the school's history and finds herself entangled in a world of magic, friendship, and danger.

A Great And Terrible Beauty Book Summary

Gemma Doyle, a spirited young girl, is forced to leave her life in India after the death of her mother. She is sent to an austere boarding school in England. Gemma has visions and soon discovers she has the power to enter the mystical realms called the 'Realms'.

With the help of her friends Felicity and Ann, she delves into the magical world. They discover the Order, a secret society that reveals itself in the Realms, and they find a diary belonging to a girl named Mary Dowd, which tells of the time when the school was run by a cruel headmistress.

While navigating the complexities of friendship and loyalty, Gemma and her friends encounter dark magic. They learn that they have a connection to the Order and that they are meant to carry on its work.

Gemma is drawn to the mysterious Kartik, a member of a rival secret society, the Rakshana. He warns her about the dangers of magic and its influence on the Realms and the mortal world.

Gemma's visions become more frequent and intense, leading her to uncover the truth about her mother's past and her own destiny within the Order. She confronts the headmistress, now a powerful and malevolent creature in the Realms, who seeks to regain her former position at the school.

The girls must find the Temple's power and destroy the headmistress, but their friendship is tested as they each grapple with personal desires and the allure of magic.

As the girls prepare to dance the magical 'Winterlands' to seek the Temple, Pippa is lured by the promise of a better life and abandons her friends, leaving them to face the dangers alone.

In the Realms, Gemma confronts her fears and embraces her power, but the headmistress manipulates the magic to strike a deal with Gemma, one that would grant her freedom in return for Gemma's mother's life in the mortal world.

Gemma refuses the headmistress' tempting offer and uses the magic to destroy her, releasing the school from her grip and fulfilling the Order's prophecy.

Tragically, the victory comes at a cost. Pippa is lost to the Realms, and the friendship between the girls is fractured. Kartik, who has developed feelings for Gemma, is killed by the Rakshana for his betrayal of their trust.

Gemma returns to the mortal world, forever changed by her experiences. She must now reconcile her dual life and the loss of those she cared for. The story ends with the promise of new adventures and challenges in both worlds.

A Great And Terrible Beauty Quotes

  1. I am whole. I am complete. I am free.I am whole. I am complete. I am free.
  2. I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.
  3. Sometimes I think of my life as a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or for a few moments in my life, I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.Sometimes I think of my life as a series of trapeze swings. I

A Great And Terrible Beauty Ending Explained

At the end of A Great And Terrible Beauty, the outcome is bittersweet. Gemma confronts the headmistress in the Realms, and after a harrowing battle, she uses her magic to destroy her, freeing the school and fulfilling the Order's prophecy.

Tragically, Pippa is lured away by the promise of a better life and is lost to the Realms. The friendship between the girls is strained, and Kartik, who had developed feelings for Gemma, dies at the hands of the Rakshana.

Gemma returns to the mortal world with a new understanding of her place in it. She grieves for her losses, but with the support of her friends, she begins to heal and looks towards the future with hope and resolve.

Characters in book A Great And Terrible Beauty

  • Gemma Doyle: The protagonist, a young girl who discovers her magical abilities and learns to navigate the world of magic and deception.
  • Felicity Worthington: Gemma's intelligent and headstrong friend who also attends the boarding school and becomes involved in Gemma's magical endeavors.
  • Ann Bradshaw: A fragile and gentle friend of Gemma's who harbors a dark secret and suffers under her brother's strict control.
  • Pippa Cross: A beautiful but naive girl at the boarding school who dreams of a life of grandeur and is entangled in her own troubles.
  • Kartik: A mysterious and alluring member of the Rakshana, an Indian secret society, who has his own agenda and initially opposes Gemma's exploration of magic.

Key Lessons

  • Embrace Change: Change is inevitable, and accepting it can lead to personal growth and new opportunities.
  • Trust Yourself: Trust your instincts and believe in your abilities, as they can guide you through difficult situations.
  • Value Friendship: True friendship is precious and worth fighting for, as it provides support and comfort in times of need.
  • Confront Fear: Confronting your fears is essential for personal development and overcoming challenges.
  • Seek Knowledge: Curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge can lead to understanding and discovery, opening new paths in life.

My Personal Opinion

Is A Great And Terrible Beauty worth reading? Definitely! I found it to be an enchanting blend of fantasy and coming-of-age themes that resonate deeply.

I was captivated by the rich world-building and the complex, relatable characters. The intricacies of the plot kept me engaged, although I occasionally found the pacing a bit slow. Gemma's exploration of her powers and the Realms was both thrilling and thought-provoking.

I would recommend this book to young adult readers who are drawn to fantasy and historical fiction. It offers a unique take on magic, set against a backdrop of Victorian England, and it carries powerful messages about friendship, sacrifice, and the search for identity.