Author: Katherine Longshore
Genre: YA Historical
Series: The Royal Circle (Book 1)
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 406 Pages
ISBN-10: 0670013994 (Viking/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-0670013999 (Viking/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Emmy
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.
Quick & Dirty: As you watch the young queen with the same anticipation you feel in a horror movie, you heart aches for Kitty and her unwavering loyalty to Catherine. There’s romance, but I was happy to find the focus is on Kitty and Cat’s close friendship, not a hot guy.
Opening Sentence: ”You’re not going to steal anything.”
While I’m a big historical romance buff, I’ll admit Henry VIII and his various wives have never been my favorite to read about. I’m too big a fan of Happy Endings. So I didn’t know a lot about Catherine Howard and her best friend Kitty before picking up this novel. From what I’ve heard from my friends who do devour Tudor novels, Longshore does a great job of sticking to the historicity of the period. Of course the novel and all its details are fictionalized from Kitty’s point of view, but I think history-purists will be pleased by Gilt.
Kitty Tylney has gone through a lot before the beginning of the novel. As in, she’s-carrying-around-a-crippling-amount-of-baggage. Her family tosses their worthless daughter over to be a servant in Cat’s step-grandmother’s house, the Duchess of Norfolk. Apparently, a lot of ton daughters got sent there for “betterment,” which as I understand really just means “they’re your problem now.” In true Mean Girls style, Catherine Howard runs the show as the Queen of Misrule. It isn’t long before Cat catches the eye of Henry, despite being on his fifth wife.
When Cat goes to court, her ever loyal Kitty is at her side. Her best friend and most loyal confidant, Kitty keeps all Catherine’s secret. Kitty’s devotion to Cat makes you want to alternately applaud her loyalty and shake her for being an idiot. She lies and placates Cat, usually to her own expense, as the girls find themselves seduced deeper and deeper into the heart of Henry VII’s cut-throat court. It’s only William, steward to the Duke of Norfolk, who seems to recognize Kitty’s unwavering devotion as unhealthy. Though their romance blossoms into a very satisfying subplot, the whole focus of the novel is on the relationship between Kitty and Catherine.
If watching Catherine ease her way into Henry’s heart is like watching a train wreck, then waiting to find out Kitty’s fate had all the anticipation of watching a plane crash. We all know the fate of Catherine Howard, but what about Kitty Tylney? How does her unwavering loyalty play out in the bitter end? The tension is threaded through the romantic novel like a ticking bomb waiting to go off.
I can’t imagine the time and research that went into recreating this world. Longshore paints a vivid picture of Greenwich Castle and its courtiers, one I couldn’t help but sink into. She doesn’t weigh the reader down with needless details to prove she knows what she’s talking about, but weaves the tense time period in with the scene. I’m excited to hear that Gilt is a part of a series, because I want to read more of this world and Longshore’s writing.
“No one is happier thank I am that you’re finally getting all you deserve. Beautiful clothes. Jewelry. A man you love.”
She stopped moving. Stopped breathing. Then snapped, “Get out,” over her shoulder, and Joan and Alice disappeared as quickly as dandelion fluff on the wind.
“Who told you?” she asked, her voice more deadly than ever. “No one knows.”
“Francis,” I whispered, my voice a paroxysm of nerves.
“Francis Dereham?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “He saw you at court. Then he came here to get his old job back. I spoke with him.”
“Francis?” She repeated, and her eyes opened wide, radiating surprise, or possibly fear.
The Royal Circle Series:
2. Tarnish (June 18, 2013)
FTC Advisory: Viking/Penguin provided me with a copy of Gilt. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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