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The Sweet Far Thing
Cover of The Sweet Far Thing
The Sweet Far Thing
The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Book 3
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The gripping conclusion to the critically acclaimed New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Gemma Doyle trilogy, an exhilarating and haunting saga from the...
The gripping conclusion to the critically acclaimed New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Gemma Doyle trilogy, an exhilarating and haunting saga from the...
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Description-

  • The gripping conclusion to the critically acclaimed New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Gemma Doyle trilogy, an exhilarating and haunting saga from the author of The Diviners series and Going Bovine.
    It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father alaudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength 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. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.
    The Order—the mysterious group her mother was once part of—is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.
    "A rare treat . . . beautifully crafted" —People
    "A huge work of massive ambition.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
    A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
    A #1 Book Sense Bestseller
    A New York Times Bestseller
    A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
    A USA Today Bestseller
    A 2008 New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
    CCBC Choice (Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison)
     

 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • Chapter ONE CHAPTER ONE
    March 1896
    SPENCE ACADEMY FOR YOUNG LADIES


    There is a particular circle of hell not mentioned in Dante's famous book. It is called comportment, and it exists in schools for young ladies across the empire. I do not know how it feels to be thrown into a lake of fire. I am sure it isn't pleasant. But I can say with all certainty that walking the length of a ballroom with a book upon one's head and a backboard strapped to one's back while imprisoned in a tight corset, layers of petticoats, and shoes that pinch is a form of torture even Mr. Alighieri would find too hideous to document in his Inferno.

    "Let us keep our eyes trained toward heaven, girls," our headmistress, Mrs. Nightwing, pleads as we attempt our slow march across the floor, heads held high, arms out like ballerinas.

    The loops of the backboard chafe the sides of my arms. The block of wood is unyielding, and I am forced to stand as stiff as the guards at Buckingham Palace. My neck aches with the effort. Come May, I shall make my debut a full year early, for it has been decided by all parties involved that at nearly seventeen I am ready and that it would do me good to have my season now. I shall wear beautiful gowns, attend lavish parties, and dance with handsome gentlemen—if I survive my training. At present, that outcome is very much in doubt.

    Mrs. Nightwing paces the length of the ballroom. Her stiff skirts whisk-whisk across the floor as if to rebuke it for lying there. All the while she barks orders like Admiral Nelson himself. "Heads held high!
    Do not smile, Miss Hawthorne! Serene, somber expressions! Empty your minds!"

    I strain to keep my face a blank canvas. My spine aches. My left arm, held out to the side for what seems hours, trembles with the effort.

    "And curtsy . . ."

    Like falling souffles, we drop low, trying desperately not to lose our balance. Mrs. Nightwing does not give the order to rise. My legs shake with exhaustion. I cannot manage it. I stumble forward. The book tumbles from my head and lands on the floor with a resounding thud. We have done this four times, and four times I have failed in some fashion. Mrs. Nightwing's boots stop inches from my disgraced form.

    "Miss Doyle, may I remind you that this is the court, and you are curtsying to your sovereign, not performing in the Folies Bergere?"

    "Yes, Mrs. Nightwing," I say sheepishly.

    It is hopeless. I shall never curtsy without falling. I shall lie sprawled upon the gleaming floors of Buckingham Palace like a disgraceful stain of a girl, my nose resting upon the boot of the Queen. I shall be the talk of the season, whispered about behind open fans. No doubt every man will avoid me like typhus.

    "Miss Temple, perhaps you will demonstrate the proper curtsy for us?"

    Without ado, Cecily Temple, She Who Can Do No Wrong, settles to the floor in a long, slow, graceful arc that seems to defy gravity. It is a thing of beauty. I am hideously jealous.

    "Thank you, Miss Temple."

    Yes, thank you, you little demon beast. May you marry a man who eats garlic with every meal.

    "Now, let us—" Mrs. Nightwing is interrupted by loud banging. She closes her eyes tightly against the noise.

    "Mrs. Nightwing," Elizabeth whines. "How can we possibly concentrate on our form with such a terrible racket coming from the East Wing?"

    Mrs. Nightwing is in no humor for our complaining. She takes a deep breath and clasps her hands at her waist, her head held high.

    "We shall carry on, like England herself. If she could withstand...

About the Author-

  • Libba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible BeautyRebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing); the Michael L. Printz Award-winning Going BovineBeauty Queens, an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist; and The Diviners series. She is originally from Texas but makes her home in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, son, and two sociopathic cats. Visit her at www.libbabray.com and at @libbabray on Twitter and Instagram.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 29, 2007
    The concluding volume in the trilogy begun in A Great and Terrible Beauty
    is a huge work of massive ambition, an undertaking that involves the plaiting and tying off a dozen plot threads—impending war in the realms and heroine Gemma Doyle’s control of its magic being the central thread but, perhaps, not the most interesting. In chronicling Gemma’s first year at Spence Academy, Bray has, over three books, widened her canvas from finishing school to fin-de-siècle London, weaving in the defining movements of the era—labor strikes over factory conditions, suffrage, the “radical” Impressionists just across the Channel, even fashion trends like bloomers for women daring enough to ride bicycles. Gemma is both buffeted and bolstered by her exposure to these developments, and readers experience how they shape her burgeoning understanding of who she is and who she may become. Some of Gemma’s struggle is about power. As exalted as she is within the realms for her role as High Priestess of the secret society, her “otherness” marks her as unsuitable for proper Victorian circles. Gemma chafes not only at the physical constraints of a corset but at the myriad restrictions placed on women. Her quest is to break free, but at what cost? Bray poses these vital questions without sacrificing the gothic undertones of the previous volumes—the body count is high, and the deaths, gruesome. That creepiness is balanced by the fully realized company of players, including the insufferable headmistress, Mrs. Nightwing, the acid-tongued Felicity Worthington, hunky heartthrob Kartik and, of course, Gemma herself, a heroine readily embraced. Ages 14-up.

  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2008
    Gr 9 Up-This hefty tome is the final installment in this popular historical fantasy trilogy starring plucky Victorian schoolgirl Gemma Doyle. Having unloosed the magic of the realms beyond her world in "A Great and Terrible Beauty" (2003) and bound it to herself as priestess in "Rebel Angels" (2005, both Delacorte), Gemma is now faced with deciding whether to fight or ally with the many creatures of the realms who want access to the magic. She also must decide whether the mysterious members of the Order and of the Rakshana who dog her steps are to be trusted, or whether they simply seek to compound their power by taking the magic for themselves. The realms themselves seem to be changing, growing darker and more dangerous by the daya change echoed by Gemma's friend Pippa, who seems to be turning into something not wholly human as she grows more entrenched in the realms. With the addition of a fairly chaste romance with lust object and erstwhile enemy Kartik and all the real-world drama that accompanies Gemma's troubled family life and upcoming social debut, the novel is somewhat overstuffed and overlong, crammed full of perhaps too many characters, plotlines, and breathless intrigue. As in previous installments, some of the protofeminist musings placed in the mouths of Gemma and her friends ring a bit false. However, the novel's fast-paced and exciting ending and Bray's lyrical descriptions of the decaying realms are sure to enchant readers who loved Gemma's previous exploits."Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City"

    Copyright 2008 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    November 15, 2007
    Fans of the Gemma Doyle series, which began withA Great and Terrible Beauty (2003), will grab this novel, in which Gemma seeks to restore magicto the Realms, help friends and family at home, andfind herplace between the worlds.Given the page count, however, theyll need to set aside plenty of reading time.Scenes in the realms are weighed down by description, andthey dont always advance the plot. Yet Bray does recapture themenace, mystery, and heady romance of theprevious books, as well as thewry, sharpsense of theVictorian society.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2007, American Library Association.)

  • The Horn Book

    July 1, 2008
    In this final book of the trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels), Gemma must dig deeper into the realms' mysteries. Who can she trust, and who is the true evil to fight? Gemma also fears losing her magic and her freedom. Lyrical prose and well-realized characters make this a satisfying curl-up-and-read volume.

    (Copyright 2008 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

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