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Losing Gemma

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  870 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
This is the story of Gemma and me: how I lost her, I suppose. I don't usually tell it to anyone but myself; I save it for the darkest moments.

Losing Gemma, Katy's Gardners debut novel about adventure, losing your best friend, and self-discovery, has been translated into twelve languages and compared to Alex Garland's breakthrough novel, The Beach, among many others. This t
Paperback, 307 pages
Published 2002 by Penguin
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Community Reviews

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Jul 26, 2007 Lena rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This novel tells the story of two young British women who go to India to backpack around the country. Friends since childhood, they have grown apart over the years and the main character, Esther, is hoping the trip will help reconnect them. On their journey, her friend Gemma befriends an odd woman named Coral who is part of an obscure religious sect. Suspense builds slowly and deliberately as Esther finds herself in the role of third wheel and the gap between the two lifelong friends widens into ...more
Jun 26, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
I struggled to enjoy this book for three reasons:
1) the main character is utterly unlikable
2) overly convenient plot points
3) I'm not sure the author has a legitimate understanding of how "best friends" function
May 14, 2012 Rachel rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
This was a random book I picked up at the library. The story held my interest somewhat and at some points you think it is going to get really good and then towards the end of the book you figure out the ending and it was sort of disappointing.
Dec 03, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

This book put so many of my half-thoughts about travelling into words. The characters were unlikeable, but that only made the story feel more real. It felt like the kind of nightmare that could actually happen to a young, dumb, traveler.

Not totally crazy about the way things wrapped up - the part about transit from the airport dragged on way too long, I saw the big twist coming a little in advance, and the explanation was not completely believable. (view spoiler)
Nov 28, 2016 Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
This was a strange book about friendship, betrayal and India. What happens when you blame yourself for a tragedy? This book attempts to answer that question.
Nov 26, 2016 DawneneKarma rated it really liked it
This was a good read and had me turning pages late into the night. The only hesitation I have on giving it 5* is that *SPOILER* when Gemma was "taken" by the cult/religious group there were inconsistencies that bothered me. They described the cult leader as a white man wearing buddhist monk robes and then they say that he has an Ashram and inside this Ashram were statues of Ganesha and Shiva......wrong religion (That is Hinduism) It bothered me and was a bit distracting but overall a great story ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Babs rated it liked it
My interest in this was originally piqued by the television programme that was on over the festive season. I thought it was a reasonable premise for a story, but that it had been badly executed, and when I heard there was a book of the story I couldn't wait to read it. People had said the book was better than the TV series, and they certainly were right! The TV programme only bore a passing resemblance to the book, which also made reading the novel much better for me.

Esther and Gemma have been f
Jul 30, 2010 Rebekkila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-m-over-it
From the back cover:This is the story of Gemma and me: how I lost her, I suppose. I don't usually tell it to anyone but myself; I save it for the darkest moments.I'll start at the place I thought was the beginning but now I know was near the end. I was pretty full of myself back then; I thought life was a cinch, that everything I did was charmed and charming. I was twenty-three. I was beautiful and successful...I was going to hurl myself at the world and see what happened.Gemma never pushed ...more
Dec 15, 2014 Georgie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esther and Gemma are two friends in their early twenties traveling around India as part of Esther's dream of authentic, gritty Third-World backpacking and adventure. Almost as soon as they arrive, things start to go wrong, and given that the book starts with Gemma's funeral some months *after* this trip, you know worse is coming.
The first three quarters or so of this book, focusing on Esther and Gemma's increasingly fraught and disastrous trip around India with an ever present sinister sense of
Ana Beja
May 04, 2015 Ana Beja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
É dos meus livros preferidos.
Esther e Gemma são duas amigas inglesas de 23 anos, inseparáveis. Partilham tudo desde terna infância. Têm personalidades completamente opostas Esther é extrovertida e aventureira e Gemma tímida. Ela esconde um segredo que não ousa revelar nem á própria amiga. Esther convence Gemma a viajar para a índia numa aventura exótica e alucinante. Já na índia conhecem Coral, uma rapariga extravagante com a qual Esther se identifica menosprezando a sua amizade com Gemma. As tr
Eve Kay
Dec 02, 2015 Eve Kay rated it it was ok
The story is pretty weak, it's hard to rate in stars: two or three?
The build up was kind of chick flicky in a way, it wasn't the kind of in depth and deep as I kind of expected of a novel about India. I guess I was looking for more in such a story but this was too superficial for me.
Also, the characters are pretty silly and naive. The main character was so lost sometimes, at times in the matter of a physical location but mostly mentally and in her thoughts and ideas, that eyerolling was what I m
Jul 12, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it
The book was quite a page-turner, until the end. There were several surprises I didn't anticipate, but the ultimate ending was too expected. I think the foreshadowing was excellent and really created some intense feelings of "what's gonna happen next." I really started to dislike the character Gemma, espeically at the end. I had a roomate who had a very similar outlook on life and started to dislike me only because of things I had no control over. Choosing to make your own lot in life vs ...more
Outi Alaja
The language was easy to read, very-well written - I think I want to travel to India next! There was just enough of nature-description (which I myself dont appreciate so much) - the amount that was needed to set the mood and background for the story. The storyline picked up about half-way thru, b4 that I didnt really "understand" where the story was going....BUT...when the plot and the idea started to reveal itself in front of me, on the pages, I could hardly put the book down! The last 7-8 ...more
Laura C
Oct 12, 2012 Laura C rated it liked it
I really loved this page turner.
Good descriptions,great suspense and realistic descriptions of India.

I would have given it a 4 or 5 stars if Esther and Gemma would have been more likeable. I just didn't care for dramaqueen Gemma, who didn't take responsibility for her life. And Esther, well, she is that type of person that keeps hanging in the past, who is self-absorbed and cannot stop but rolling around in her own messy drama. Both very immature women. Esther, even in her late twenties, hasn't
Jan 26, 2013 Diana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Não é mau. A história desenrola-se com naturalidade, surpreende o suficiente para ser interessante e uma leitura agradável (embora não muito marcante). Não gostei muito da forma como estava escrita, mas como é uma tradução não poderei dizer se a falha é da escritora ou da tradutora. Mas apesar de tudo o principal motivo para não gostar deste livro tanto como talvez merecia foi não me ter sentido envolvida pelas personagens, embora me identifica-se em alguns aspectos faltava alguma coisa embora ...more
Wendy Chard
This book is interesting in the themes that it deals - the naivety of backpackers and culture shock (also, deterioration of relationships). However, the self-loathing tone of the protagonist got a little tiresome, and the twist wasn't a great shock. The main problem for me was the proclamation on the cover that I would love this book because I loved The Beach and for me, the two are just incomparable. Sorry, Gardner!
Jan 22, 2011 Nicole rated it it was ok
a strange exploration of what is friendship exactly, set in the context of two lifelong friends who embark on a trip to India where it all goes horribly wrong. The author is usually in the first person of one of the friends but occassionally switches gears and the story is told from the perspective of the alternate friend. There is a cliche that becomes revealed towards the ending but until then, the reader is forced to endure the lifelessness that has not only plagued the main character, but ...more
Sep 19, 2013 Mafalda rated it liked it
I read it without knowing much about it, except that it involved India, and that was enough.

It was a fast kind of read, the story is thrilling, it's not amazing, as a matter of fact, it's not a 4 or a 5, but it's a 4 because it was just so addicting, and hell, gotta give it propz for that. The characters weren't particularly to die for, but they were okay.

It's a light-read with a good component of suspense. Can't hate on the storytelling skills portrayed. The whole traveling to the unknown is wh
Nina Michele
Apr 08, 2015 Nina Michele rated it it was ok
well first of all I like to point out the miscalculations in this book according to my own perception. The "5 years after" statement was not clearly define or should I say said twice giving an illusion that Esther lost Gemma for 9 and a half year though it was pretty well written.This things let readers get confused and some sort. So this is just a precaution in case someone wanted to read this book. Though honestly I was bit traumatized about the people's hostility there, and the climate also ...more
Melissa Dally
Apr 15, 2015 Melissa Dally rated it liked it
Mostly an intriguing read, even if the main character was not terribly likable. I know there are lots of folks out there (not me tho, LOL) who would identify with the things she is going through.

One thing that needed edited out was the amount of times this happened:

Esther: ZOMG, Gemma complaining about the heat is SO ANNOYING.

Yes, Gemma doesn't like being overheated and Esther doesn't want to hear Gemma complain, but do we really need to replay this THAT many times?
Aug 16, 2007 helen rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
This book tells the story of two best friend backpacking around India. You are made aware from the start that something big is going to happen and so the suspense is there right away. I thought this book was great. It keeps a good pace throughout. I managed to read most of it when I was in India (ill with food poisoning), which set the scene nicely. I managed to guess the ending but still a great page turner, quite thrilling. If you liked The Beach you'll love this book.
Apr 28, 2009 Talya rated it liked it
The cover of the book proclaims "if you loved 'The Beach', you'll love Losing Gemma." I expected it to be another book about vacations gone wrong. The first few chapter read like the movie Brokedown Palace (was that originally a book?). One of them dies on this journey of self-discovery. Five years later Esther "accidentally" comes back to India to find out what really happened to Gemma. There are many twists and turns in the fast-pace novel. I didn't see the end coming.
Jul 05, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Is it bad that I noticed a typo on the very first page? The last line on the page says "It wall all my fault" (instead of "it was all my fault.")

Overall the book was pretty good... I love travelling and have lost some close friends through falling outs or just drifting apart, so I could relate to this book in a lot of ways. I enjoyed the book for the most part, although I found it a bit haunting. I hated the ending.
Years later and I still remember the discomfort that this book gave me. I always feel that way at two friends drifting apart, but to see the deliberate actions on the part of Gemma and how Esther is affected by those choices - it makes me feel awful. So this is obviously not a happy story. I did love the setting, the descriptions of the country the girls were in...but two girls backpacking alone in India - it can't end well.
Nov 25, 2016 Molly rated it really liked it
I wasted an entire day at work because all I could focus on was this book. I advise against starting this one until you have nothing to do until the end of however long it'll take you to read it.

3 stars instead of 4 (my highest rating) because the characters could be massive pains in the neck, to the point of it being irritating to read about.
Sep 01, 2007 Katie rated it liked it
Pretty good for a fluff read. It is about two friends who go backpacking to India and end up meeting a strange woman who latches on to the weaker of the two girls, named Gemma. Gemma ends up finding out about a misdeed the other character Esther has done to her previously and they have a falling out, Gemma telling Esther to get lost that she is staying with this strange new lady.
Lynn Braz
Jul 10, 2011 Lynn Braz rated it liked it
Gardner is not a great writer, but she is a good storyteller. Loads of holes in the story, but a quick, breezy, fun read. The novel feels as if she slightly fictionalized her own first post-university backpacking trip to India. Cool, surprise ending:
Aug 24, 2016 Kelli rated it it was ok
The plot of this story was quite good, but not a single likable character. The most annoying thing I can think of in any story, movie, or real life is all the "unsaid" but obvious crap which could clarify a situation and not necessarily ruin an entangled story-line. I think this would be fairly appreciated adolescent reading.
May 03, 2013 Autumn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Susan Pintz
Recommended to Autumn by: Jenny Milchman
I would even give this four and a half stars. The writing is great, the story is great. It is a thrilling story as well as introspective. My only gripe is that another point of view was thrown in half way through the book and that was discombobulating.
Oct 08, 2008 Kathy rated it liked it
Recommended to Kathy by:
I read this book and Running in High Heels the same summer, and was completely stunned by the revelation in each one. I like to think of myself as attentive and observant, but I missed all of the clues and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Foreshadowing at its best.
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Katy Gardner is a British author, best known for her novel Losing Gemma, which was turned into a two part mini series for ITV1 in 2006. As well as writing, she also teaches Social Anthropology at Sussex University.
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