Review: Gilt

Gilt (The Royal Circle #1) by Katherine Longshore
Release Date ~ May 15, 2012
Viking Juvenile ~ Penguin
ISBN13: 9780670013999
ARC received from Penguin Canada

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free--
and love comes at the highest price of all. 
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.

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.

  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!


Shannon Dittemore said...

Great review. I met Katherine Longshore at a conference last year. A truly kind and lovely writer. I still need to get my hands on this one.

Unknown said...

I am right with you as a huge lover of historical fiction, and I too thought this book was great! I, like you, loved the inside view into court from the eyes of an average girl who is kind of an outsider. I'm so excited for the next novel, TARNISH, too! We'll have to compare notes when it comes out :)

ChristasBooks said...

I picked up a copy of this a little while ago and I'm so happy to see you enjoyed it! I love historical fiction - especially this time period! Can't wait to read it and its sequel!

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