Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Gilt

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men—the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

Review: I was lucky enough to live near a bookstore where the Gilt launch party was held. Katherine Longshore was a charming author and she had the cutest gold nail polish ever. I wasn't able to snap any pictures because I forgot my camera, but she told us about her book, did a reading for us, and then answered questions. Katherine Longshore told us that she lived in the UK for a few years, and during her reading she had a slight British accent. Afterward, while answering questions, she had this cute little accent that was a mix between American and British. 

She admitted that she wrote in a more contemporary voice in Gilt than other historical and that people have called her out on it. Later, while reading, I found this to be true, but it didn't take away from the story. If you're new to historical fiction, Gilt might be a good transition book for you. 

Cat and Kitty's friendship sort of sickened me and fascinated me at the same time. Throughout this entire book, I really couldn't figure out why Kitty stayed with Cat and was so loyal. From the first time we meet Cat, we find out she's essentially the "queen bee" of the girls, even when she was as unwanted and poor as everyone else. Cat is spelled out to be so shallow and manipulative, using Kitty to help her practice different emotions to draw out responses from other people. Kitty followed Cat's every whim, and even when she was angry with Cat in her head, it didn't take Kitty very long to get over it and forgive Cat. Kitty was a meek main character, which was a little bit annoying because I didn't like seeing Cat toss her around. Later in the story, and by later I mean near the end, Kitty's character development is really something to watch. It's wonderfully written and a very realistic change. 

Cat on the other was a horrible person, but she was so much fun to read about. Her risky behavior sometimes made me wonder if she had a death wish or if she really was that stupid. Cat didn't have many redeeming qualities, to be perfectly honest, but her manipulations and temper tantrums kept me entertained while she was there. The inevitable end is common knowledge, but it was a very emotionally charged scene.

Which will lead me onto my next point, Katherine Longshore is a brilliant writer. While the plot in the book is slow, it isn't so boring that you'll be tempted to put the book down. There are so many other interesting events occurring that you don't really miss the lack of action. Life at court is like tightrope walking. There are so many foreboding things just off the page. Threats to Cat, threats to Kitty. Kitty's life is interesting to read about because she lurks so close to Catherine Howard and is so close to her. Katherine Longshore really knows how to draw emotion out of readers with her words as well as keep them hooked in her world.

I really applaud the author's extensive research because Katherine Tylney was a real courtier at Henry VIII's court who did grow up in the same place as Catherine Howard. She obviously knows her information well and it shows with the ease in her books. She doesn't just toss everything onto us in a huge info dump. I just sort of settled into her story, like wrapping a blanket around my head.

Overall, while Kitty wasn't my favorite main character, Gilt was an great read that kept me entertained from cover to cover.

Rating: 4/5 stars


  1. I love your review! I too thought Katherine Longshore wrote the story beautifully as well as in an informed manner, you know? I wasn't overwhelmed by all the details, but I could still totally tell she knew what she was talking about.

  2. Great review! It's always great to find books that can keep you engrossed from start to finish. Also, sometimes the most awful of characters are the most fun to read about. Terrible people are so entertaining when they're not in real life.

  3. Great review! I really need to pick this book up. That is interesting about the Contemporary voice because I didn't know about that but now hearing that I think I will really enjoy this book. I like historical fiction every once in a while but it usually takes me quite some time to get through it.

    Traci @ The Reading Geek

  4. Brilliant review! I'm so glad to hear the author did her research and refrained from any hideous info-dumps. While I'm not a big historical reader, I think I will really enjoy this book! Especially as you mentioned this is written in more of a contemporary voice than historical. Glad you liked it, Julie! :)

  5. I'm jealous that you got to go to the book party. Book events rarely drop by my area! ;)

    This sounds like an interesting read. I love historical fiction, but having gone through a die-hard historical fiction phase in middle school, I'm pretty picky with it and usually prefer historical fiction that maintains the integrity of the era. Cat sounds like a fun character, and the pacing looks good though. I may pick up a copy if I get the time. You know how my recent hiatuses have put me behind my TBR&Review pile!

  6. This book intrigues me...a modern historical from the.sounds of it. Great cover too.

  7. The only thing I find really odd about this book is that the main characters are named Cat and Kitty. It's weird and a bit confusing, hah. The rest sounds very good. I'm always in the mood for a book that explores unusual human relationships, and this sounds like just the thing. I tend to be a bit picky with my historicals too, especially when it comes to language, but it seems that this book really deserves a chance.
    Wodnerful review, Julie!