Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Chapter 15

By Libba Bray

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Chapter 15

  • Pippa complains about getting red carnations from Bumble because they aren't romantic enough.
  • Gemma doesn't want to say anything because she's still mad about the note Pippa passed Felicity earlier; also, the two of them are each wearing one of Pippa's new gloves.
  • Curious, Ann asks why Pippa's mother is in such a hurry for her to marry before her full season is over—Pippa mysteriously replies that she needs to marry before the groom finds out he's been duped, which makes no sense to Gemma. 
  • Then Pippa tells them all that you are supposed to make the men feel powerful by giving them lots of compliments.
  • They drink whiskey, and this time Gemma only drinks a little bit as she reads the diary aloud.
  • The diary tells them that Sarah and Mary touched the Runes of the Oracle and that they felt like one person.
  • Felicity thinks this is kind of hot and thinks the girls are sapphists, or gay, which makes the other girls embarrassed. 
  • Gemma keeps reading and they learn that Mother Elena read the fortunes of the girls and that she said Mary was on a dark path and seemed scared. 
  • When Gemma drops the diary, scattering papers about, Ann leans over to help her organize them and Gemma sees new scratches on her wrists.
  • During the next bit of diary Gemma reads, they learn that Sarah lost her powers and Mary offered to help her find the door of light again, but Sarah refused to rely on someone else's power—she only wants her own.
  • Mary writes that Eugenia told her that often a girl has power and then it will fade away; the realms choose who will remain.
  • Later on, Mary writes that she feels terrible that her best friend won't be going back to the realms with her and she doesn't want to leave her behind, so she says she would do anything to help Sarah get power again. 
  • This is where things get dicey. Sarah tells Mary that she went to the Winterlands, a place they are forbidden from entering, and she spoke to a spirit that said if they kill something as a sacrifice, they can use the spirit's magic—Sarah is scared by this suggestion, and also confused.
  • At this point, Gemma stops reading and feels kind of gross, but she's not sure if it's because of what she just read or the heat; Ann wonders about Mother Elena telling their fortunes.
  • And the moment we've all been waiting for finally arrives: Pippa suggests they try to make magic and Felicity and Ann are totally in, and though Gemma starts having a tiny freak out, she feels like she can't back down or the rest of the girls will think she's a wimp.
  • The girls hold hands in a circle, and call the spirits to listen to them—Gemma doesn't want to do it, but she does anyway, and the cave fills with light and heat and she breaks free before something worse happens. 
  • Everyone is weirded out by Gemma's sweaty, shaking body (they didn't see anything that Gemma did), but good ol' Gem doesn't dish her dirt this time.
  • Outside, the girls howl and twirl, but it is so hot Felicity gets the idea to take a dip in the lake and doesn't listen to Pippa scolding her for being nasty (she is showing those forbidden places, you know… a.k.a. arms and ankles).
  • Felicity is in and Gemma longs to feel free too, so she undresses and gets into the cold water, and Pippa follows but Ann decides to stay out. Oh, cautious Annie. 
  • The cold water feels amazing to them… but suddenly Pippa hears something.
  • Uh-oh. Someone is nearby—Pippa dashes from the water and tries to cover herself just as Kartik comes into view carrying a cricket bat.
  • Much to Gemma's horror, he sees Pippa wet and nearly naked and looks bedazzled.
  • Felicity snaps at Kartik and tells him that they should poke his eyes out, so he takes off.
  • Later that night, in their room, Gemma asks Ann why she cuts herself and Ann says it's because she doesn't feel anything.
  • So, being the great gal she is, Gemma makes her promise she won't do it anymore.

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