One major part of Gemma's story in A Great and Terrible Beauty has to do with yearning for a family she can depend on, take comfort from, and feel supported by. She used to have this family, long ago before her mother was murdered and her father became addicted to opium—and Gemma doesn't want to give up on them now, but she is majorly conflicted about how to reconnect.
The family drama isn't limited to Gemma, either. Pippa and Felicity have complicated relationships with their parents too, and a whole lot of emphasis is placed on these girls becoming wives and starting families of their own soon.
Questions About Family
How exactly did her mother's death affect Gemma? What are the positive and negative things that you notice?
What does Gemma miss most about her family? Are the things she longs for even possible any more?
Why did Gemma's father begin taking opium? How does Tom deal with it? How does Gemma deal with it?
What impact did Gemma's family have on her unique personality? What part did her parents play in her rejection of gender roles and social etiquette?
Chew on This
This book shows us that your family is the most important part of your social life, and if it falls apart, it can be devastating.
Gemma's family is messed up and that makes life much harder for her to deal with.