In Rebel Angels, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann make anagrams of their names. Gemma's name became something like Emma Godley. In A Great and Terrible Beauty, the housekeeper at Spence, Brigid, becomes very uncomfortable when Gemma's eyes stir up the memory of Virginia, then called Mary Dowd. Gemma is see as The Hope of the New Order.
Gemma is considered to be quite pretty, but no beauty, and is tall for a girl her age. She has pale brows and freckles and describes herself as having the shoulders of a boy. Her hair is red-gold and usually worn properly in a schoolgirl's bun. Her most distinctive feature is her set of brilliant glass-green eyes, which are inherited from her mother, Virginia Doyle.
Gemma lived most of her life in India. In June 1895, Gemma's mother, Virginia Doyle , dies, leaving Gemma with her strange amulet in the shape of the Crescent Eye, and the Doyle family moves back to England. Gemma, then only sixteen, is sent to Spence Academy rather abruptly. Her first friend there is roommate and scholarship student Ann Bradshaw, and shortly after, she meets witty and wealthy Felicity Worthington and the beautiful, but shallow, Pippa, at that time Felicity's best friend. All four girls strike up a rather unconventional relationship as they find themselves entangled in the mysterious Order.
Shortly after the death of her mother, Gemma starts having strange visions that show her frightening images. Kartik, a member of the Rakshana who is supposedly protecting her, tells her, she is a member of the Order; just like her mother. From her visions, Gemma is able to navigate herself and her friends into a strange world called The Realms, where they have absolute power over everything. It is in the realms that she meets up with what she believes to be her dead mother, and the two devise a plan to defeat Circe and her ruthless assassins. However, the power of the Order lies within their ability to make illusions, and Gemma soon realizes that the mother she meets in the Realms is not the mother she knew during her lifetime. She discovers that Virginia Doyle is actually Mary Dowd, who, along with her best friend, Sarah Rees-Toome, became entangled in the power that the Realms, Winterlands,and the Order offered them. While Mary escaped and was reborn as Virginia, her greatest friend, Sarah, turned into Circe, an evil member of the Order who wishes to take the power away from Gemma. The illusion of Virginia Doyle is destroyed in A Great and Terrible Beauty along with Circe's assassin in a fight with Gemma, but in the process, Pippa decides against returning to the mortal worlds and Gemma leaves her behind, effectively killing her. Later on in Rebel Angels, Pippa becomes corrupted by the realms and goes off to the Winterlands, forever leaving behind her friends. So far, Circe has not succeeded in her goal of taking over the Realms and harnessing the power there, and, in Rebel Angels is imprisoned in the Cave of Sighs forever. At the end of Rebel Angels, Gemma has a new mission--to piece together a New Order, one free of corruption and with new members, much to the chagrin of former Order priestesses like Claire McCleethy.
Also unique in Gemma's life is her relationship with Kartik, a member of the mysterious Rakshana who is apparently trying to protect her. In Rebel Angels, Kartik's true assignment--to have Gemma bind the magic of the Realms in the name of the Rakshana, then kill her--is discovered by Gemma, who believes that he has betrayed her. Kartik, however, insists that he never would have done it and proves his honesty by helping Gemma escape the Rakshana when they imprison her, causing him to become one of their enemies and forcing him to turn his back on everything he has ever known. In the books, it is obvious that Gemma and Kartik both feel something beyond their platonic relationship, but as Kartik is Indian and Gemma is a proper English young lady, she would be sacrificing her and her family's reputation if she chooses to be with him.
In "The Sweet Far Thing"Gemma and Kartik finally admit their feelings and have a romantic relationship. As a result, Kartik agrees to let Gemma show him the realms. They place their hands inside a special circle in the Cave of Sighs, which gives them the ability to appear in each other's dreams. At the very end of the series, Gemma decides to go to Am erica to make an independent life for herself.
Throughout the series, Gemma struggles with her fears that she does not fit in anywhere and that she is truly loved and valued by no one. She has strained relationships with her strict, critical grandmother, her brother, who is interested mainly in social climbing, and her father, who tries to avoid painful memories of his wife by using drugs.
Gemma is the daughter of John Doyle and the late Virginia Doyle. She is the sister of Tom Doyle. Gemma has strained relationships with her strict, critical grandmother, her brother, who is interested mainly in social climbing, and her father, who tries to avoid painful memories of his wife by using drugs. Gemma is very close to her mother. Her mother has always put her relationship with Gemma first, although it's very clear that she wants Gemma to be independent.
Ann is Gemma's roommate and one of her best friends. The two became friends because Ann had no friends and was her room-mates. When she was asked to be friends with Felicity and Pippa, Gemma said yes only
under the condition that they would befriend Ann, too. Their friendship later became real. They bonded, come to love each other.
Felicity is one of Gemma's best friends. Felicity has a strong sense of loyalty; when forced to permanently choose sides in The Sweet Far Thing, Felicity stays with Gemma and Ann even though Pippa is on the opposing side.
Pippa is one of Gemma's friends. Pippa has a weak friendship with Gemma. Pippa has a stronger friendship with Felicity than anyone.
Kartik is a member of the Rakshana and is given the task of watching Gemma Doyle. Gemma has a crush on Kartik and later turns into a relationship in Rebel Angels. Kartik sadly dies is The Sweet Far Thing.
Cecily Temple is Gemma, Ann and Felicity's rival. Cecily is very conceited and snobbish and thinks very poorly of Gemma.
Gemma's first name means "jewel". Her surname, Doyle, comes from the Irish language Ó Dubhghaill, or "descendent of Dubhghall". The word Dubhgall, as it were, is Gaelic for "dark stranger". Gemma's full name, then, means "jewel who is descended from a dark stranger".
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