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The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3)

The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3)

4.5 694
by Libba Bray, Josephine Bailey (Read by)

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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 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


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 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The concluding volume in the trilogy begun in A Great and Terrible Beautyis 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. (Dec.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Monserrat Urena
This is the third and final book in "The Gemma Doyle" trilogy. It takes place a short time after the events of the second book Rebel Angels. The girls are still at Spence Academy. Gemma has bound the magic to her. Felicity and Ann still long for the freedom to live their lives as they see fit. Along with their upcoming debuts, Gemma and the girls must also face the mysterious Order and the Rakshana. Each group is vying for control of the realms. Within the realms, tensions are also rising. Gemma is the only one who can set everything right again. I do not think it fair to judge a series by a single book. My position only gets worse when the book in question is the last one in the series. As you can already guess, I have not read either one of the previous two books of "The Gemma Doyle" trilogy. But I am forced to say that I have no desire to. This book was enough. It could have been the feeling of being bashed over the head by all the quotes and allusions in an almost juvenile show of intelligence. It could have been the moments when the book's pace slowed to an agonizing crawl. Or it could be the moments of high danger that come to a screeching halt as the main characters frolic in the magical secondary world, the realms. In the end, this book wraps itself around the reader like a tight corset that just keeps getting tighter and tighter—until we pass out for lack of oxygen. This is a must miss book. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena
Things have not gone well for Gemma since she bound the magic of the realms to herself. Former ally Kartik becomes an enemy. A mute woman in lavender appears in her visions and sends her cryptic messages. After decades of lying in a burnt ruin, Spence School rebuilds the East wing with disturbing results. Gemma's friends fare no better. Her undead friend, Pippa, grows dependent on magic. Felicity's inheritance depends on the good intentions of a malicious gossip, and Ann struggles to break free of her predestined fate as governess to her cousin's mucus-oozing children. As the magic within Gemma grows more unpredictable and the line between reality and the realms grows fainter, she learns that nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. All good things must come to an end, and so must Bray's historical fantasy saga. Bray certainly deserves accolades for creating well-written, multi-genre fiction with complex characters. At 800-plus pages, however, the book suffers from too much detail and not enough action. There are many interesting tidbits sprinkled about the book like literary Easter eggs, but by page 500, the reader might begin to tire of repeated descriptions of the strife between the realms' citizens, the political machinations of the Rakshana, and Gemma's indecisiveness. This book is, in short, put-downable, an entirely undesirable attribute for a series finale. Nevertheless readers will want to find out the fate of their favorite characters as the novel moves towards its poignant ending. Reviewer: Angelica Delgado
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2007:
“A huge work of massive ambition.”

Review, People, December 24, 2007:
"This is a rare treat that offers a bit of everything--romance, magic, history, Gothic intrigue--and delivers on all of it in 819 beautifully crafted pages."

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Gemma Doyle Trilogy , #3
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.96(w) x 5.83(h) x 1.65(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

March 1896

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 Cromwell, the Wars of the Roses, and the French, surely you may overlook a bit of hammering. Think how lovely the East Wing shall be when it is completed. We shall try again—steady! All eyes are upon you! It won't do to scurry to
Her Majesty like a timid church mouse."

I often imagine what sort of position Nightwing might seek out were she not currently torturing us as headmistress of Spence Academy for Young Ladies. Dear Sirs, her letter might begin. I am writing to inquire about your advert for the position of Balloon Popper. I have a hatpin that will do the trick neatly and bring about the wails of small children everywhere. My former charges will attest to the fact that I rarely smile, never laugh, and can steal the joy from any room simply by entering and bestowing upon it my unique sense of utter gloom and despair. My references in this matter are impeccable. If you have not fallen into a state of deep melancholia simply by reading my letter, please respond to Mrs. Nightwing (I have a Christian name but no one ever has leave to use it) in care of Spence Academy for Young Ladies. If you cannot be troubled to find the address on your own, you are not trying your very best. Sincerely, Mrs. Nightwing.

"Miss Doyle! What is that insipid smile you're wearing? Have I said something that amuses you?" Mrs. Nightwing's admonishment brings a flush to my cheeks. The other girls giggle.

We glide across the floor, trying our best to ignore the hammering and the shouts. The noise isn't what distracts us. It is the knowledge that there are men here, one floor above us, that keeps us jittery and light.

"Perhaps we could see the progress they've made, Mrs. Nightwing? How extraordinary it must be," Felicity Worthington suggests with a sweetness bordering on pure syrup. Only Felicity would be so bold as to suggest this. She is too daring by half. She is also one of my only allies here at Spence.

"The workmen do not need girls underfoot, as they are already behind schedule," Mrs. Nightwing says. "Heads up, if you please! And—"

A loud bang sounds from above. The sudden noise makes us jump. Even Mrs. Nightwing lets out a "Merciful heavens!" Elizabeth, who is nothing more than a nervous condition disguised as a debutante, yelps and grabs hold of Cecily.

"Oh, Mrs. Nightwing!" Elizabeth cries.

We look to our headmistress hopefully.

Mrs. Nightwing exhales through disapproving lips. "Very well. We shall adjourn for the present. Let us take the air to restore the roses to our cheeks."

"Might we bring our paper and sketch the progress on the East Wing?" I suggest. "It would make a fine record."

Mrs. Nightwing favors me with a rare smile. "A most excellent suggestion, Miss Doyle. Very well, then. Gather your paper and pencils. I shall send Brigid with you. Don your coats. And walk, if you please."

We abandon our backboards along with our decorum, racing for the stairs and the promise of freedom, however temporary it may be.

"Walk!" Mrs. Nightwing shouts. When we cannot seem to heed her advice, she bellows after us that we are savages not fit for marriage. She adds that we shall be the shame of the school and something else besides, but we are down the first flight of stairs, and her words cannot touch us.


Meet the Author

Libba Bray is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels, both available on audio from Listening Library. She has never lived in the Victorian era, is not British, and has no superpowers, though if she did, they would involve being able to eat her weight in Swedish fish without feeling the urgent need to brush her tongue afterward. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, their son, and a cat of questionable intelligence. Visit her website at www.libbabray.com.

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The Sweet Far Thing 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 681 reviews.
Did_This_For_Class More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I was on the edge of my set when reading parts of it. Near the end I even started crying. Libba Bray is a wonderful author. Her writing made me feel like I was Gemma (the main character). I must say you should read her other two books ¿A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels. Sweet far thing is the third book in this series. This book is mostly for girls but there is some war like scenes. My favorite part is the hot romance between Gemma and her lover Kartik. Their love is delayed a lot, which made me a little unhappy. I would of like to see on things happen between them I want to say more but I don¿t want to ruin the ending. Gemma and her friends must find a way to save the realms and our world from the evil Winterlands, or is it the Winterland that is evil? Who is the bad guy? Who can Gemma trust? This book has many fantasy creatures like pixies, nymphs, gargoyles, and many other magical being. This book won¿t bored you believe me.
Little-Gale More than 1 year ago
I LOVED THIS BOOK!! It had everything- a little romance, awesome action, suspense, and more. I have only read two books in my entire life that made me cry, this was one of them. I love how it is told in present tense, too. The best thing about this book is how it all comes together in the end. It's like a mystery in a way. You have to put the pieces together like a puzzle and in the end it is just amazing when all the questions are answered. PERFECT story.
Fantasy_girl083 More than 1 year ago
So I loved this series! It has become one of my favorites. This book, the last in the series, was a bit dragged out, but it still kept me reading and not wanting to put it down. I hated the ending with one very important character dying. I cried when it happened, so even though I didn't like that it happened, if a book can stir that kind of emotion, it is good. I'm not a very emotional person anyway and the fact that the book hooked me in and made me feel shows that it's worth reading. The characters are excellently developed and they make you feel what they are feeling. Very good book.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The third and final book in Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy, THE SWEET FAR THING picks up a few months after REBEL ANGELS ended.

It's now spring, and Gemma has been unable to reenter the realms with or without her friends since the Christmas holidays, when she sealed all the magic inside herself. She has grown uneasy with dreams of the supposedly dead Circe and the absence of Kartrik, despite his pledge to support her. As Mrs. Nightwing oversees the rebuilding of Spence Academy's long destroyed East Wing, Gemma discovers a door that leads into the realms. Soon she, Felicity, and Ann have rejoined Pippa in the realms.

All is far from well, however. Within the realms, the various tribes strive to convince Gemma to share her magic, and she finds herself unable to trust any of them. Circe is not dead after all, and her warnings frighten Gemma. And what of the new visions, in which Gemma sees a former student of Spence Academy, who writes of the Tree of All Souls?

Outside the realms, there is just as much uncertainty. Gemma prepares for her debut and tries to make her peace with her father and brother. Felicity's headstrong behavior has put her on the verge of losing her inheritance and freedom. Ann must decide whether to risk everything on the chance of a career in the theatre.

As dark forces spread through the realms and the girls' debuts approach, Gemma must find more strength in herself than she ever thought possible, and decide just what kind of woman she wants to be -- for herself, not anyone else.

Fans of the trilogy will tear through this book, eager to reach its conclusion and learn the fates of all its characters. Bray's descriptions of Victorian life and the mysterious realms are as colorful as ever. Gemma makes a sympathetic if sometimes frustrating narrator, believable in her struggle to make the right decision. At over 800 pages, THE SWEET FAR THING is far longer than either of the books before it, and there is some repetition to the earlier scenes, but those who love the world will be happy to spend as much time there as they can. Toward the end, the plot picks up to a heart-pounding pace. Between cheering the happier parts of the ending, and grieving over its inevitable sadness, readers will be glad to have lived through this tale with Gemma and her friends.
Devynnn More than 1 year ago
I liked this book at first, but as it progressed I found myself more and more infuriated. The biggest turn-off: Gemma is, without a doubt, a massive pushover. She allows everyone to be rude to her, to yell at her, to even hit her and the like, and she never does anything about it, which really makes me mad.  She needs to stand up to Philon and Creostus (when he was alive), and Felicity and especially Pippa when they were in the realms (I never really liked Pippa at all, but in this book she seems especially self-important and annoying). Gemma allows herself to be pushed aside and talked down to on seemingly every other page, and it's honestly quite disheartening to read  from the point of view of someone who does absolutely nothing.  She's not very heroic.  On a positive note, I did very much enjoy the first two books. But this one just became too much for me; I found I couldn't enjoy it because of Gemma's unwillingness to stand up for herself in any situation, and I was glad when it was finally over. I don't think I'd read it again, because (aside from Kartik, the Gypsies, and Nightwing) I find all the characters extremely annoying. 
superchan More than 1 year ago
This was such a great read. I could relate to all the characters. I'm actually kind of sad the series is over... I would love to read about Gemma and all of her new experiences as she grows older/wiser, etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it soo much!! Very well played Miss Bray:)
Schatzy Eichmann More than 1 year ago
This book was so amazing! The only thing that I didn't like was that it had to end:(
readingisbreathing12 More than 1 year ago
if you are into magic, fun and frienship with a touch of romance this novel is totally for you, the first time i read it i couldnt put it down. i know this is not a good review but seriously give it a try with this book, you'll really enjoy it
SerenitySilver More than 1 year ago
The last of the Gemma Doyle trilogy was a story that made me think. I haven't been this in love with a series in a very long time and my love affair with books has been widespread. It takes a really great book to make my emotions act up to the point where it can make me cry, yell out in frustration, and laugh out loud with sheer joy. The love portrayed between Gemma and Kartik was undeniably one of the sweetest and most gentle of love stories. This book offers so much more than just mystery and fantasy, it gives greater depths into what true friendship is all about and how life may not seem so different as it is written in a book. We can all take a piece of it and apply it to our own lives. I heart Libba Bray!
StephieSM More than 1 year ago
Kartik and Gemma should be together in some way (in the realms even). It wasn't a happy ending. She is still lonely. You read books to lift your spirits and inspire you, make you hopeful. At least that is why I read books. I was disappointed.
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arbjamesAJ More than 1 year ago
Now that Gemma has eliminated the threat posed by Circe, she can take her time to decide the ultimate fate of the realms' magic she bound to herself. However, not everyone is content to wait. Strange stirrings in the Winterlands, disturbing visions of a mute lady in violet, and startling signs of life from Circe start to convince Gemma that she doesn't have as much time as she thought. When her family becomes a target, she has to learn quickly who to trust. Will she choose wisely? I think I liked Gemma the least in this third novel of the trilogy. She really became a spoiled, self-centered teenager here, using the magic in incredibly irresponsible ways. At 800+ pages, she had ample opportunity to grate on one's nerves! In the second book there seemed to be hope that she would understand the great responsibility that she has, but that understanding came much too late for way too many people in this third and final book. The ending was unsatisfactory as there is much left to be done in the realms to forge a lasting peace, and I just don't see Gemma as being quite self-sufficient enough to make the choice the does in the end. All in all, though, a great trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok it is a five star book abd what i dony get why she likes simon. Like seriously Katrik died in a f*** tree and simon lived. She was supposed to be with katrik but i guess that what authors do to you.
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This is my favorite book of all. I have read this book so many times I've lost count. Read this book and all of Libba Bray's other books because they re just as good.
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I loved the book but the ending was so sad I CRIED.Really wished there was another book.poor gemma.819 pages tho wow!Again loved it!
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