Monday, June 4, 2012
Gilt by Katherine Longshore
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 my neglected love; I truly adore history but hardly ever get a chance to read any books based on it. Thus, I began Gilt with high hopes and excitement, and although there are a few things I didn't like, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The Tudors are such an interesting period of history and Gilt does not do them a disservice. Although it takes a woefully long time for Kitty to get to court, even the period where she still lives with a duchess is full of adventure. The girls at the duchess's home get in to so much trouble and are witness to so many secrets that there's always excitement, and because the things they witness come into play at court as well, they're doubly exciting. I still wish the move to court happened sooner, though, because the stuff before it is nothing compared to the scandals of the king and the rest of the household. There is always shady business going on there, much of it predictable, yes, but Kitty is privy to so much drama that even the expected stuff was never dull. I wish the pacing of the book was less awkward, though; there's a constant stream of excitement, but sometimes entire seasons and months will pass by in paragraphs and I didn't even know how long other events took, which made some of the actions of the characters seem unbelievable.
However, just because there is a ton of scandal in this book doesn't mean that (all) the characterization suffers for it. Kitty is sometimes infuriating because of the actions she does or doesn't take, especially when it comes to Cat, but she's believable too. Their friendship is complex because of all the pain Cat causes Kitty, but despite all the stuff they put each other through and Cat's generally unpleasant attitude, they really do care about each other. It's a heartbreaking thing to watch all the misdeeds of Cat because Kitty so descriptively documents their effect on her, but these emotions just intensify the book and the girls' personalities. I wish everyone else in the novel was as complex; the strange pacing makes it so that some people move in and out of the story, so their short presence makes their personalities rather flat and exaggerated. Like, both of Kitty's love interests? Eh. One never stops being boring and one is comically villain-like, so I felt the romance of the novel overall was lacking.
Awkward pacing and underdeveloped minor characters aside, I quite enjoyed Gilt for its constant excitement and vivid portrayal of the Tudor period.
Book details: Viking/Hardcover/$17.99
Source: sent by publisher for review