Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Sweet Far Thing

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (Simon and Schuster)
PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-073181456-5
Reviewed by Peta Biggin

It has been a year since Gemma Doyle first arrived at Spence Academy.  Having discovered the powers that dwell within her she has defeated her nemesis, Circe, and bound the magic of the Realms to herself.  Now she must face her greatest challenge as the battle for control of the magic flares up around her and she must decide her fate.  Chaos is guaranteed should she make the wrong choice.  How can Gemma decide where she really belongs?  Is she strong enough to survive the trials that confront her?

Originally published in 2007, The Sweet Far Thing is the final instalment of the gothic Gemma Doyle Trilogy. 

This has been a great trilogy that I have enjoyed reading immensely.  The familiar themes of social class, sexual awakening and the position of women on Victoria society are all present and further built upon in this novel.  To my mind, there was greater focus on the roles of women in this novel than in the others.  In particular how wealth, class and family connections inflicted sever restrictions on their futures. 

Our three main characters must all deal with this in different ways:  Gemma because she is unable to adhere to social conventions; Anne as she is condemned to a life of servitude because of her lowly station; and Felicity because she is unwilling to submit to marriage as she faces up to her own homosexuality.  The series concludes with each of them forging their own path contrary to what Victorian society dictated for them.

One thing that I did like in particular is that Libba Bray was not tempted to finish the series too neatly – for example, the flourishing romance between Gemma and Karthik does not end happily. 

At over eight hundred pages, this is not a quick read and there were patches that where I felt the pace of the story did wane.  Overall, however, it was a great conclusion to the series and I would certainly recommend it.   

Libba Bray is an American YA novelist whose other titles include Vacations from Hell and Going Bovine, amongst several others.  She currently lives in New York with her family.  Anyone wishing to learn more can visit Libba’s website:   

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