Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Chapter 21

By Libba Bray

Chapter 21

  • At the Spiritualist meeting, Mademoiselle LeFarge looks good and the girls fuss over her as they all sit in the theater.
  • Overhearing the girls and their teacher whisper about how real Spiritualism is, a man named Inspector Kent tells them it is all an illusion and that these people are merely magicians tricking folks out of their money—but Mademoiselle is like, uh-uh, you're wrong.
  • But despite his claims the man seems interested in her anyway, and after the first performance, he says it is a great act, though Mademoiselle doesn't buy what he says and is annoyed with him.
  • Felicity does her part and gets Gemma on stage to contact her "mother," Sarah Rees-Toome; then Madame Romanoff fakes her way through contacting Gemma's mom, which really makes Gemma mad because she was longing to speak to her. 
  • As Gemma accidentally slips into a vision, she drags the actress with her. 
  • Once inside a forest, which Gemma thinks must be the realms, the Spiritualist starts freaking out and screaming. 
  • Dead people slump out of the woodland, calling for Gemma to come to them—and the wigged out fake-medium swears she'll never lie to people again.
  • Gemma stops the dead in their tracks and asks if any of them are Sarah—they aren't—but then she sees her mom running, and she takes off after her. 
  • Finally, she catches her mom inside a temple and speaks with her about her powers and how she has to use them or they will fade away.
  • Gemma's mother tells her that the Rakshana are afraid of her power and that she might succeed in bringing back the magic of the realms—she says that Gemma is the link in the Order and holds the magic, but also that Circe is looking for her. 
  • Then suddenly her mother has to go and tells her to find her in the garden, where it's safe.
  • Once she is back with Madame Romanoff (whose real name is Sally), a dead man appears and tells her that he is Mademoiselle LeFarge's fiancé and that he wants to give her a message: that he still loves her and that he still has the muffler she knit him. 
  • The ghost warns Gemma to leave or they will be looking for her. Who are they? We don't know, but it doesn't sound good.
  • Gemma agrees to take Sally back to the real world if she swears to never tell another person about what she saw and if she tells LeFarge a message: that Reggie, the ghost, still loves her and wants her to move on and be happy. 
  • Gemma tries out her newfound ability to control getting in and out of the realms by thinking hard, and though it takes her a bit, she figures it out.
  • Once back on stage in front of loads of people, Gemma realizes that her whole trip only took one minute of real time. How very strange indeed. 
  • Sally gives the message to Mademoiselle and then awakens. 
  • Afterward, all the girls, including the ones who hated Gemma, want to know everything about her experience and whether she saw spirits. 
  • Gemma doesn't humor them at all and tells them to wake up and smell the coffee—it is all fake, she claims—so her haters just hate her even more.
  • On a lighter note, the four Order girls worry about what kind of punishment is in store for them, but Mademoiselle LeFarge is in rare form and looks kindly on Inspector Kent.
  • While being crushed in the crowd, Gemma is pulled aside by the tricky Kartik, who asks her about her magic trick on stage—he demands that she follow his orders and threatens her with his stare. But Gemma is tired of all this.
  • So she bites his hand and commands him to stop following her. She insults him and the Rakshana and basically makes him put his tail between his legs, then leaves him there, stunned.
  • On the way home, Gemma wakes Felicity up (she's fallen asleep during the carriage ride) and tells her they all must meet tonight.