Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Chapter 13

By Libba Bray

Chapter 13

  • Past midnight, the four girls sneak out to the caves; Pippa complains a lot, then says she is hungry, so Ann takes out an apple for her that she rudely accepts.
  • Felicity takes out a bottle of the communion wine Gemma stole so that each of girls can drink from it in order to be in the new club.
  • Pippa swigs from the bottle, then passes sit to Ann who hesitates—Felicity demands that she drink or leave, so Gemma stalls by taking a swig and choking on its nastiness. 
  • Felicity tells her it is the Reverend's whiskey, then passes it right back to Ann, who takes a sip, followed by Felicity. 
  • They all take a few more sips until they are seemingly drunk, and Gemma wonders if this is how her father feels after taking laudanum.
  • Brainstorming names for their club makes them laugh, until Gemma suggests the Order and Felicity loves it.
  • The blonde leader takes a bite of the apple and kisses Gemma, which makes her blush. 
  • In the little cave, everyone is happy to belong, to be together in a secret.
  • Pippa asks the Order if they think there really was such a group of women and Felicity thinks this idea is ridiculous.
  • Gemma cannot resist taking out Mary Dowd's diary, and once she does, the other girls are all about it—they read with their mouths hanging open and pass where Gemma had stopped reading.
  • For fun, Felicity reads aloud a bit. There is an entry about feeling lost in a misty woodland, and about someone named Eugenia, which Ann blurts out might be Mrs. Spence, but no one pays attention to her. 
  • Then she continues reading and they learn about a place called the Winterlands, for souls that have rotted in some way, or been corrupted; it's a dangerous place, needless to say.
  • Having read enough, Felicity thinks it is foolish writing, but they read on anyway.
  • The diary talks about how lovely and wonderful the garden is and how they can make all their wishes come true. The sisters of the Order showed them how to tap into power at the Oracle of the Runes and how to manipulate the minds of others.
  • Skeptical, Felicity hounds Gemma about where she got the diary and whether she really believes it is real, which she lies about and says no—she also says she found it in the library.
  • No matter, Felicity claims that the book now belongs to the Order and that they will read it at the beginning of each meeting. Oops—tough luck, Gemma.
  • We learn that Felicity's mother lives in Paris and her father is away a lot at sea.
  • Pippa's mother is terribly annoying to her and gets on her case about every little thing, trying to make Pippa perfect for marriage; she wants her to marry someone named Mr. Bumble who is fifty and rich. Ew.
  • The men Pippa's mother has tried to set her up with are so funny to the girls that they roar with laughter.
  • Stupidly, Pippa then comments to Gemma and Ann that at least they don't have to put up with things like that (since their mothers are dead), and Felicity kicks Pippa hard, though she still doesn't get how cruel it was to say that.
  • Then Ann finds a picture of a man and women having sex, all dressed up in animal skins and horns. It was drawn by Mary's friend, Sarah Reese-Toome.
  • Horrified and totally excited by the drawing, the girls joke about sex. We learn that English ladies are taught not to enjoy it but to think about England's future population and making their husbands happy.
  • Gemma thinks about Kartik. 
  • Ann is just embarrassed and speechless, and doesn't understand what the picture is showing, so Felicity creeps to Ann offering to show her what the picture is about and licks her cheek.
  • Laughing, Felicity talks about how she wants to sleep with as many men as she can, all sorts, which the girls cannot believe she is saying. 
  • They all get caught up in naming the sorts of men she'll be with and Gemma says admirals but Felicity gets serious and says absolutely no admirals, then she takes a big swig of whiskey.
  • Quickly, she suggests they make up an oath or a ritual, and takes Gemma's necklace, then pokes her finger until there is blood.
  • In turn, each girl smears her blood over the cheeks of the others.
  • Gemma gets a flashback from her dream—the part where her hand is cut open and there is blood and her mother is screaming—but she joins in anyway.
  • They all swear to tell the truth, and then go around saying their heart's desires. 
  • Pippa wants to find true love, Ann to be beautiful, Felicity to be powerful, and Gemma to simply understand herself.
  • As Felicity calls out to the goddesses on the walls to grant their wishes, in a dramatic woosh a breeze blows out the candle.