Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gemma Doyle Trilogy - Libba Bray

Libba Bray's bio- and bibliography

Genre :
Young Adults, Fantasy

A Great and Terrible Beauty

French title : L'oeil du destin : Les sorcières de Spence

American publisher : Delacorte Press : 9.99$US, 12.99$CAN

English publisher : Simon & Schuster Children's : 6.99£

"Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, 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 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 a chilly reception. But she's not completely alone...she's been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.
For it's at Spence taht 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 group called the Order. It's there that her destiny waits...if only she can believe in it."

Rebel Angels

French title : No available translation

American publisher : Delacorte Press : 9.99$US; 12.50$CAN

English publisher : Simon & Schuster Children's : 6.99£

"Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy - spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Simon Middleton. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify - visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.
The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world to which Gemma takes them. To the girls' great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.
But all is not well in the realms - or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face with her late mother's greatest friend, now Gemma's foe - Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task..."

The Sweet Far Thing

French title : No available translation

American publisher : Delacorte Press : 10.99$US; 12.50$CAN

English publisher : Simon & Schuster Children's : 7.99£

" It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength to turn catty schoolgirls into loyal friends, and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild.
Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances with headstrong Felicity and timid Ann; with Kartik, an exotic young Indian man whose companionship is forbidden; and with the fearsome creatures of the realms. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.
Rule-breaking Felicity must do as she's told or risk losing her inheritance, and Ann's dream of a life onstage slips away. The Order, the mysterious group Gemma's mother was once part of, is grappling for control of the realms, as are the Rakshana. It is there that the girls meet their adored friend Pippa, who is not the same...or is she? The power to change everything - both in and out of the realms - rests in Gemma's hands."

A passage from The Sweet Far Thing that I really like a lot and which illustrates this tension I'm talking about below between Gemma and Kartik. Honestly, I love Bella and Edward's story, but Gemma and Kartik have no reason to envy them, except the end maybe;o)

A hedgehog flees from the safety of a bush, startling me. It darts past us in a terrible hurry. Kartik nods toward the furry little thing. "Don't mind him. He's off to meet his lady friend."
"How can you be sure?"
"He has on his best Hedgehog suit."
"Ah, I should have noticed," I say, happy to play his game - any game - with him. I put my hand on a tree's trunk and swing myself around it slowly, letting my body feel gravity's pull. "And why has he worn his best?"
"He's been away in London, you see, and now he has returned to her," Kartik continues.
"And what if she is angry with him for being away so long?"
Kartik circles just behind me. "She will forgive him."
"Will she?" I say pointedly.
"It is his hope that she will, for he didn't mean to upset her," Kartik answers, and I am no longer sure we speak of the hedgehog.
"And is he happy to see her again?"
"Yes," Kartik says. "He should like to stay longer, but he cannot."
The bark chafes against my hand. "Why is that?"
"He has his reasons, and he hopes his lady will understand them one day." Kartik has changed direction. He comes around the other side of the tree. We are face to face. A palm of moonglow reaches through the branches to caress his face.
"Oh," I say, heart beating fast.
"And what would the lady hedgehog say to that?" he asks. His voice is soft and low.
" She would say..." I swallow hard.
Kartik steps closer. "Yes?"
"She would say," 'I whisper, "If you please, I am not a hedgehog, I am a woodchuck.'"
A small sad smile plays at Kartik's lips.
"He's fortunate to have found so witty a lady friend," he says, and I wish I could have the moment back again to play differently.

What I think

A gripping story with magic, and mystery and love which will holds you breathless...

Risks of spoilers

I discovered this series thanks to Karine, a canadian blogger, who had the great idea to advise me to read it. But unlike her, I couldn't wait for the third book to be out in paperback to complete the series. I am the Queen of odd series : I begin in french and finish in english, or I begin in paperbacks and finish in hardback, and sometimes I lose myself between American and English publishers... I can be very patient for trivial things, but not for books. If I read something I really love, I need the sequel immediately-right-now-not-tomorrow!!!

Well, in any case, everyone should read Gemma Doyle's adventures, there's something for everyone in it.

The story takes place in Victorian England, where women have no free will and when young girls only have the right to stand well and open their mouths when asked to. I was very frustrated, because I am easily outraged, and I am easily angry when I see injustice. And in this books, I must admit that I was well served, especially in the first book, with Pippa's arranged engagement to a potbellied old man. And her way to escape this social marriage!!!

We find here a more realistic image of the Victorian era than in Austen's books, where everything ends well. Well, yes, Austen's heroines always marry for love, but we all know that wasn't the case in reality.
For those who like the Victorian society, you can find in this series this atmosphere, the balls and financial marriages, but also some wonderful love stories.

Besides, talking about love, I must confess that Libba Bray is great, because she talks about some taboos, not only for the Victorian society, but still today.
First Kartik, an Indian who works for the Rakshana, a secret society, against Gemma, will fall in love with the demoiselle, and of course it is mutual. For those of you who have read Twilight, you will understand what I mean when I talk of this underlying tension whenever they are together. However, I was really disappointed by the end. I was looking forward to see how Libba Bray would make Gemma and Kartik live their love. How could a young well-bred english girl have a relationship with an Indian in the 19th century? According to me, Libba Bray chose the easy way out. I don't want to tell you how it ends, it would be too much, but it's a very easy end. All that to end like this!!!

Another taboos is the relationship between Felicity and Pippa. I was surprised when I discovered it, just like Gemma, because I wasn't prepared for it.

The way Gemma makes new friends is interesting too, an it made me think of when I was in school. I was kind of the whipping-girl, because the "leader" of the band didn't like me. In the morning, she would tell me " Today we talk to you" or "Today we don't talk to you". Well I was in primary school, here we have older girls. They're 16, but it represents the changeable attitude of youngsters. How Gemma manages to tame these pests and makes Ann join in the same time, it's impressive.
I honestly believes she would be betrayed by her so-called friends, and finally I was wrong, the circle was really pulled together.

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