Good-bye Gemma was first published in 1969, with a US
edition in the same year (as Good-Bye Gemma!). It is
now out of print, although the recent (1999) Collins paperback
(under the title Gemma in Love) may still be available
Story | Connections
to Other Books | Thoughts | Editions
The final book in the Gemma series is eventful for all members
of the family.
Gemma is invited to play the part of Juliet in the Headstone
University production of Romeo and Juliet, with a very
exciting Romeo. Then her mother telephones to say she has been
offered a television role in England, and she wants Gemma to come
and live in London with her. This would mean giving up the play,
which Gemma refuses to do.
Lydia is distraught when she learns that Miss Arrowhead will
be going away for four months. When in London with the family,
she manages to see Monsieur de Clara, one of the best teachers
in the world, who tells her that one day he will send for her
for an audition. However, her punishment for slipping away without
telling the family - leaving them terrified that she may have
been lost or kidnapped - is far worse than she could have imagined:
she is not to perform in Gemma and Sisters over Christmas.
Robin and Nigs are excited when there is an offer to make a Gemma
and Sisters record. However, the plans suddenly change, and the
record becomes a solo work for Ann. Robin, who had dreamed of
the record being a hit, and swirled music becoming the latest
craze, suffers the first serious disappointment of his life.
Connections to Other
Good-bye Gemma is the fourth in a four book series:
the other three books are Gemma,
and Sisters and Gemma
(This section contains "spoilers" for those who have
not read the book.)
In Good-bye Gemma, Noel again moves into what could
be considered "Young Adult" rather than "Children's"
territory, by showing Gemma falling in love with the actor playing
Romeo. However, this is dealt with very superficially: in fact,
Gemma's internal life seems to be very much less in evidence here
than in the earlier books in the series. By contrast, we seem
to see proportionally more of Ann's, Lydia's and Robin's emotional
lives. It is possible that the idea of Gemma falling in love was
included to appeal to what the contemporary readers wanted, but
that Noel was not particularly interested in it. Certainly, it
is not something she looked at, either before or since, in her
books for children.
Noel also seems to be making a conscious effort - even more so
than in the earlier Gemma books - to give Good-bye Gemma
a contemporary setting. In addition to Ann's career as a pop singer,
Gemma's involvement in the University play lets Noel mention sit-ins
and Vietnam rallies.
However, in spite of the rather forced nature of some of the
material, Good-bye Gemma still contains much that is
interesting. In Lydia's successful attempt to have Monsier de
Clara see her dance, Noel revisits Posy's assault on Manoff from
Ballet Shoes. In this
case, however, the idea of a child disappearing for hours is taken
rather more seriously. Although Pauline, Petrova and the Doctors
are worried about Posy, they do not tell Nana or Sylvia - or the
police - that she is missing; and when she returns safely the
whole event is quickly forgotten. With Lydia, however, Noel shows
us clearly the agonies the family is suffering in not knowing
what has happened to her. It also gives Gemma the opportunity
to reflect on the nature of ambition:
She remembered the agony in Alice's voice as
she had said "Lydie's missing". Could any result that
might come from Lydie meeting Monsieur de Clara be worth the
suffering she had caused? And yet in itself Lydie's driving
ambition was a good thing. You could not get far without it.
Oh, dear, how puzzling life was! (Good-bye Gemma, 1969:59-60)
Another interesting factor is the development of Ann's career.
At the end of Gemma Alone,
it seemed that, in spite of her talent, Ann would not be following
a career in music because of the aspects she disliked (stagecraft).
In Good-bye Gemma, however, Noel takes her back into
the world of music, by finding the opportunity - in the world
of pop - for her to "just sing". One cannot but feel
sorry for Philip - although this is not a side of the story Noel
emphasises - in having to first accept that Ann will not be going
to the Royal College of Music, and then see her performing in
a musical arena for which he has little respect.
Editions and Availability
Good-bye Gemma was first published in 1969, with cover
painting and illustrations by Betty Maxey. The entire Gemma
series was "specially written by Noel Streatfeild for Armada
Books". Thus, the first edition was a paperback, and it appears
that Good-bye Gemma has never had a hardcover release.
It was republished in the early 1970s as an "Armada Lion"
paperback, still with the Betty Maxey illustrations, but with
a photographic cover.
In the later 1970s it came out as a "Fontana Lion"
paperback with the Betty Maxey illustrations and a (different)
photographic cover. This edition continued to be republished into
the 1980s, with yet another cover design.
In 1999 Collins released a new paperback edition, with a new
cover design, and a new title - Gemma in Love.
In the same year as its UK release (1969), a slightly retitled
edition - Good-Bye Gemma! - was released in the United
States by Dell.
It was republished in the late 1980s as a Dell Yearling paperback.
As I have not read the US editions, I do not know if the text
was in any way amended.
Out of Print
The 1999 Collins paperback
edition of Gemma in Love may still be available in
shops. However, it is no longer listed on the HarperCollins
website, and can therefore be assumed to be out of print.
In February 2004, second hand copies through online booksellers
start in price at around £2. (Source: Addall
Used and Out of Print Book Search.)
Publishers Ltd. © 1969 Noel Streatfeild