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Posted March 19, 2013
Historical fiction is one of my THINGS. I love it! I could just eat it up with a spoon :) I’ve been reading it for years (historical fiction was one of my original favourites of reading – it’s one of the reasons I got hooked on books!) and I get giddy with excitement when I discover new YA historical fiction books – like Gilt!
Gilt is a delightful look at a real story, with some imagination to bring it to life and fill in the blanks we don’t have factual answers for. I love historical fiction for the way it brings history to life and gives us a way to relate to it. And there are so many different perspectives to it! There never really is one “right” answer.
Reasons to Read:
1. You’ll never think Tudor history is boring again:
Tudor history actually isn’t boring at all. Not one bit! But I know that not everyone is as infatuated with history as some others are, and so the way Katherine Longshore brings history to life and from a youthful perspective is refreshing. Sometimes we forget that historical people were real at one time – they had similar struggles as we do, and teen ladies-in-waiting and queens are no exception. Catherine Howard is one of the least discussed of Henry VIII’s wives and I thought it was so neat that Katherine picked her to feature as a central character. And telling the story from her best friend Kitty? It worked perfectly for the book!
2. Luxurious and twisted:
It’s never lost on Kitty how different her life has become as Cat moves up the social ladder to become Queen of England. Everything is so glamorous – like the way we picture Hollywood and the upper class echelons in modern day. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all beautiful. The positions are precarious and gossip can kill you – literally. The struggle as a woman and their historical position in society is shown in a very real, terrifying way.
3. Showcases the depth of friendship:
Most of us have that friend – someone closer than a sister, like a “kindred spirit”. You don’t always love them, but you understand them and they you better than anyone else. How far would you go to protect your friend? From others? What about form herself? Kitty’s struggle to care for Cat and herself is as delicate a balance as there can be. Those of us familiar with history know how it ends, and that doesn’t make Kitty’s struggle any less difficult to read about. It’s heartbreaking to see a best friend self-destruct like that. And that last chapter? With some of Cat’s last words? One of the few things I’ll never forget from a book. They’re embedded in my brain. This is probably the first time I’ve ever felt an ounce of sympathy – or given any thought at all – to Catherine Howard.
At the same time, it’s hard not to view Cat as a silly young girl in over her head. She always seems to be asking for trouble and it can be so frustrating to watch Kitty continually enable her in some ways. It’s the kind of situation where you want to shake the characters for making such dumb decisions. But that’s just part of the story and how things were. But I wish we had focused a little bit more on Kitty and her interests and her desires, even though I admittedly know that the story has to focus on Cat because that’s where Kitty was focused.
I can tell you that I’ll be watching Katherine Longshore for a long time and I’m already looking forward to her next Royal Circle book featuring Anne Boleyn! I’m hoping she can bring new life to an old favourite of historical fiction and if anyone can do that, it’s Katherine!
ARC received from Penguin Canada for my honest review; no other compensation was received.
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Posted August 24, 2012
The problem with reading quite a bit of historical fiction from the same time period is that you tend to read about the same characters over and over. It becomes difficult to shed new light on a subject. I've read a couple books revolving around Catherine Howard, but this one seemed like it might be something different. I was right.
I liked that the story is told from the viewpoint of someone close to Cat. We are seeing the events unfold through someone elses eyes. Add to the intrigue is that it is someone who has known Cat before she was queen and before she went to court. I think that's an important distinction. While Kitty is a complete doormat throughout this book, I think she believes she can't be anything else. She been discarded and the only way she feels worthwhile is to be at the beck and call of another. Usually not a very redeeming quality in a lead narrative, but I couldn't help but root for her. We all know Catherine's fate, but I was hoping that wouldn't happen to Kitty just because Catherine would drag her down with her.
Speaking of Catherine, this book made me dislike her intensely. In the other books I've read, she's played off more naive and innocent (in the sense that she really has no clue what is going on around her). I've felt that she was being set up by her family but had not idea the true danger her situation put her in. This book made me think that may have not been so. She conniving, selfish, and knows exactly what she's doing. She will do anything and use anybody to get what she wants. What still amazes me, is that she thought she could get away with it. Did she think she could charm her way out it? That her youth and beauty would be her saving grace?
I liked the way some things are explained in this book. Thomas Culpepper is an interesting character and their relationship takes some interesting turns throughout this story. I like how the well known events unfold so that they are completely logical and make you believe they may have actually happened this way. I also liked how the sexual aspect is toned down just enough for the young adult audience. There's not much historical fiction geared to teens (and I know I would have loved this at a younger age). I think this genre might open up new interests for teens and history.
I enjoyed this book a lot. I'm looking forward to the idea that this might be a series. Will the author take on another one of King Henry VIII's wives? Or maybe Queen Elizabeth? Time will tell!
Posted August 20, 2012
If you like books with a love story i would not recomend this! I was
incredibly bored throughout the whole story waiting for something to
happen, i felt kitty's character didnt really develop a whole lot and
remained the same throughout the book. if your into historical books
then i would recommend it but otherwise, dont read.
Posted July 23, 2012
Upon meeting Kitty and Cat, both nicknames for their longer name, I instantly despised Cat and all that she stood for. She is the friend that uses and abuses, makes everyone do her bidding, and lives to manipulate everything and everyone into what she desires. Kitty wasn’t much better in the fact that she lets herself be manipulated and walked all over, but she does so in trying to be a good person, trying to see the good in others, and trying to do the right thing – those are her saviors and why she is so likeable. Especially in comparison to Cat – they are so very different.
This young adult historical fiction had many aspects based in fact, but the author let their imagination run free with the things that we will never really know and it was wonderful. I loved seeing the court from Kitty’s point of view and seeing everything that goes on behind the scenes. Kitty’s character grows stronger with time and she even opens herself up to the idea that she could be loved by someone, even as her family seems not to.
While life is definitely not the bed of roses they thought it would be once they entered court, it does have it’s moments and it’s benefits. It also has it’s downfalls – especially being a woman in that time period – and that’s where things go wrong for the girls. The story is full of twists and turns, but you are privy to all of them and know what’s going on. It’s the journey to the end that is so mesmerizing and I’m happy to hear that there will be additional books set in King Henry’s court from Katherine Longshore.
ARC reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
Posted July 3, 2012
It's really hard to believe that Gilt was Katherine Longshore's debut novel, the writing was well perfected and you would think she has been doing this for years. Gilt is set during the Tudor Era and Longshore kept the tale of Cat and Kitty very engrossing right to the very end.
Gilt is about Kitty Tylney and Cat Howard who also was in real life the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. The story starts off with the two only dreaming of being part of Court life and then thanks to Cat's charming and mischievous ways their dreams become reality. Cat becomes queen and makes her closest friend Kitty one of her chambermaids. And what follows is a whole lot of lies, betrayal, deception and scandal mixed in with beautiful gowns, handsome men, and lavish parties.
If you know history you know things don't end to great for the characters in this book I was actually left feeling a little sad and I hate the fact that I got no closure with Kitty's character as far as her love life went. It was all very bittersweet.
As far as the characters are concerned I could not stand Cat she was just so vile, spoiled and rotten to everyone around her especially Kitty who already had no backbone when it came to their friendship and allowed Cat to take advantage of her in well...everything. Kitty was loyal to the core to Cat even at times when she should have been selfish and for once thought about her happiness. When it comes down to it Gilt was centered around their friendship. That is what kept me reading. The relationship between the two girls fascinated me while pissing me off at the same time.
In the end I loved reading Gilt. Even though I've been reading a lot of paranormal and fantasy books lately my love for historical fiction still remains. I did know some facts about King Henry the VIII wives but thanks to Longshore and her ability to captivate me with this era after reading the novel I researched more about him and his wives and learned a great deal about them. I highly recommend this book it did not disappoint even with a doormat of a character like Kitty I still found myself rooting for her till the very end.
Posted May 29, 2012
Historical Fiction. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this genre. In fact, I will admit that when I come across one, I tend to veer the other way, with no hesitation. What changed my mind, and caught my eye with Gilt? I won’t lie, it was all about the cover…and the synopsis peeked my interest. I will say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am so glad that I didn’t turn away from Gilt by Katherine Longshore. Yes, I had my doubts, and went into it fully expecting to DNF this book BUT… I totally and completely enjoyed Gilt.
To be thrust into the world of kings and queens, in the time of King Henry VIII and his court. It was absolutely intriguing to read about what sort of secrets and strategic planning it took to come out on top in the court of the king.
In Gilt, we follow the lives of Catherine Howard (Cat) and her best friend, Katherine Tylney’s (Kitty) and how Cat comes to be the next wife of King Henry VIII and the next Queen of England. We bare witness to all the deceit, the secrets, and the lies that Cat and those in King Henry’s court use in order to be in favor of the King and live life in his court.
Main protagonist, Kitty Tylney, has lived in the shadow of her best friend Cat Howard for many years. When Cat provides an opportunity for Kitty and her other 2 friends to come to King Henry VIII’s court, Kitty learns just how much deception and secrets are the way of the King’s court, and must decide for herself what is the truth and whom she can entrust her darkest secrets. In a world where every little word and action is scrutinized and punishable by death, Kitty must be aware of everything that is happening with herself and with Cat.
Katherine Longshore’s writing in Gilt is fantastic. I was able to picture every single detail as I read through the pages, right down to the many jewels and the elaborate dresses. I was swept away into a world that many readers dream about, where chivalry is not dead but also where every action is a strategic move in order to advance. Longshore has breathed in so much life into the characters in Gilt. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story unfold before my eyes. Although I had guessed what the ending of the book would be (since I’m not much of a history buff and am not really aware of who did what after whom in that time), it was fascinating to watch the pieces fall into place.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking into branching into the historical fiction genre. I will definitely be more open to reading more in this genre.
Posted May 24, 2012
I have to say I was pretty excited to start reading a book about Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife. I've read a lot about many of the others but I haven't found a good historical fiction about Catherine yet. After reading Gilt, I am still looking for a good one. I am not saying that Longshore's juvenile historical fiction was bad, just wasn't over the top wonderful.
Gilt is told from the POV of Catherine Howard’s closest confidant, Katherine "Kitty" Tylney. Kitty and Cat grew up together and their characters really offset each other. Cat is selfish and very manipulative and Kitty is basically a doormat. She is very passive and her unwavering devotion to Cat becomes almost unbearable to read at times. After Cat marries Henry we see even more of that manipulative behavior from Cat as she tries to stay in the good graces of Henry (and we all know how hard that is). Kitty strives to be more but whenever it seems that Kitty is about to strike out on her own, Cat pulls her back into the games of the Court.
Kitty also has a couple of prospective love interests. William, who she holds near and dear, and Edmund, who is everything that she has always desired. I wouldn't call it a love triangle in the true sense that we have come to know them but both men enter and leave her life at different times fulfilling that specific need that Kitty has at the moment. The two really couldn't be more different. William wants nothing to do with Court and since Kitty will always be devoted to Cat; her place is at Court at Cat's side. Edmund lives and breathes the games and fun that Court has to offer him.
Gilt, I felt, was thoughtfully researched but had a very modern dialect that will resonate with the juvenile reader (of which the book is marketed) and hopefully will encourage them to continue reading historical fiction in the future. The characters could have been fleshed out a bit more but all in all, a satisfactory read for me.
Posted May 23, 2012
Almost any book written about King Henry VIII and his various mistresses and wives is sure to entertain, but Gilt took it a step further and truly captured my heart.
I already knew the general story surrounding the relationship between Catherine Howard and King Henry VIII, and also knew about her background with Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper. I didn't know much about Kitty Tylney, though; just that she was Cat's closest friend and confidant, and that she was loyal to the very end. In Gilt, Katherine Longshore allows us to see things from Kitty's point-of-view, and while much her own details are fictionalized, it still stands as quite a captivating tale.
Poor Kitty Tylney went through a lot. She was given up by her family at a young age, as a worthless daughter, to be a servant in the household of Catherine Howard's step-grandmother. Feeling indebted to Cat for her attention and protection, Kitty did Cat's bidding, often putting herself in precarious and uncomfortable situations just to please her friend.
Her loyalty was truly tested when Cat managed to catch King Henry's eye and brought all of her old friends from Norfolk to court. Cat was young and wild, but not unlike most teenage girls, whose focus is usually more on instant gratification and material things. Unfortunately, King Henry's court was not an understanding or forgiving one. Kitty lied for her and placated her, mostly to her own detriment.
Despite the trepidation of court life, Kitty found brief serenity in the form of William, a steward of the Duke of Norfolk, and a boy who was wise beyond his years. He loved her for who she was, and recognized that her unwavering loyalty to Cat was misplaced and not healthy. I really enjoyed the relationship between these two characters and couldn't stop from rooting for them as they battled the odds - and Cat's selfishness.
Right up until the very end, I was so anxious for Kitty. Even though I knew the eventual fate of Cat, Thomas, Francis, and all the rest, I just had to know that Kitty would be okay. She gave up so much of her life for her best friend, I just couldn't see her lose her life entirely. The ending was bittersweet, and not exactly happily-ever-after, but I am glad to know that Gilt is a series and I hope that we have not yet seen the last of Kitty Tylney!
I would be remiss if I did not remark on how incredibly pleased I am with the quality of this novel. It is obvious how much time and research went into re-creating the Tudor time period. As the clothing and tapestries and surrounding countryside were described throughout the story, I could easily picture myself in Greenwich Castle, surrounded by ladies and courtiers dressed in lavish gowns and doublets. Oh, how I love the elegance of this time period!
In the end, Gilt is a story about friendship and loyalty, and how quickly things can spiral out of control when one party takes advantage of another. I despised Catherine Howard for the things she put Kitty through, but I also realize that she was a relatively "normal" teenager who got in over her head - no pun intended. At times, I wanted to shake Kitty and tell her that no friendship is worth all that heartache and loss; however, I had to admire her tenacious loyalty.
Even if you are not a history fan, you will still be drawn in by the world that Katherine Longshore has re-created in Gilt. I believe you will be instantly captivated and begging for more by the end!
Posted May 21, 2012
I will admit that I know zero about Henry VIII, but this book read like the most riveting and amazing history lesson I could ever imagine. We follow Kitty Tylney through her sometimes tumultuous friendship with Catherine Howard, first bossy girl and eventual Queen to Henry, as she tries to make her way as confidante and accomplice. Kitty tries to do right by the Queen, but loses herself in her loyalty and the secrets, lies and deceit that go along with being at court (Gossip Girl has nothing on this story).
And not only is this a juicy read, but Longshore is so skilled at drawing real (and sometimes horrible) characters that are so three dimensional and layered, that I felt myself sometimes conflicted over who to root for. Beautiful language and imagery are throughout and there's even room for some bawdy humor. An amazing read that I think anyone will love, even those who aren't history buffs.
Posted May 15, 2012
I am awestruck by this brilliant historical story about King Henry VIII's fifth wife, 17 year old Catherine Howard, as told by her best friend and loyal chamberer, Kitty Tylney. I've read other books about King Henry VIII and his wives, but maybe because GILT is told through the eyes of a commoner, it strikes a truer and more profound chord to me than any other. Katherine Longshore does an amazing job fleshing out her cast of characters, she nails the psychological highs and lows of serving in King Henry's vicious court, and she brings to life the complicated webs of lies and chilling fate that awaits anyone who displeases this brutal king. Visceral and haunting, this is a book to own ... you'll want to read it again!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 17, 2012
I'm going to be perfectly honest when I tell you that often historical fiction is not my thing. Sometimes I find the factual details to be mind numbing--but when it's done right--it gives me shivers. The truth can be scarier than the imagination.
GILT gave me shivers.
Longshore was a master of the skill, show--don't tell, particularly when it came to sharing her historical information. She painted a rich, vivid picture of the times and I never felt like I was pulled from the story in order to get the details. And then then there were the characters... I was utterly fascinated and appalled by Catherine Howard and Katherine Tylney. I couldn't look away from their friendship, escapades and dysfunction. The rest of the cast of characters were equally as engrossing--each one falling into place like the interlocking gears of a watch. When Catherine Howard was in motion, it made the whole Tudor Court spin and I couldn't look away. And lastly, I loved the play on words with the title. Gilt means to be thinly covered with gold leaf or gold paint. But if you scratch at the lightly veiled corruption of the times, you easily discover a lot of guilt.
This is one of those books that perfectly straddles the line between literary and commercial. I absolutely loved it!
Posted June 3, 2012
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Posted October 31, 2012
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