Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Book Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Release date: May 15, 2012

Pages: 398

Summary: Before Catherine Howard became the queen of England, she was a chambermaid with big dreams. Her best friend, Kitty, did everything in her power to make sure those dreams come true. So when King Henry chooses Cat to be his next wife, Kitty is summoned to serve her best friend at court. But serving the queen comes with a price—Kitty must bear many secrets, for court life is full of deception and lies.

My thoughts: Wow! Gilt completely blew me away. I was expecting a bit of a dense read (historical novels often feature writing that is a bit slower-going), but Katherine Longshore managed to make this account of Catherine Howard’s reign a quick read. Longshore’s writing is reflective of the time period, but it’s simple and easy to read. Those daunted by a large page count have nothing to worry about, especially considering how addicting the story is. It’s nearly impossible to put Gilt down once you’ve started; it’s as if you’ve been sucked into the Tudor court yourself, and, like all the courtiers, you must know what will ultimately happen to the queen.

Gilt is narrated by Kitty, but the story focuses more on Catherine. This is because Cat has what we call a “big personality”: she steals the spotlight from everyone she comes near. Kitty remains a shadow for most of the novel, but that’s okay, because having two boisterous characters in one book might be a bit too much. Kitty’s loyalty is her best quality, and her discreteness comes in second. I admired her dedication to the incredibly selfish Catherine; were I in her place, I would have found a new best friend. Katherine Longshore does a fantastic job of crafting a character (a main character, at that) who we love to hate. I could not stand Catherine, but I found her unyielding belief in her own supremacy fascinating. This girl needs a serious reality check, but it’s kind of fun to watch a character because of her own demise (is that weird?). I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that the two main characters in Gilt are such dynamic and believable people—I admire Katherine Longshore’s ability to elicit emotions through them!

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, give Gilt a try! It will feed your need for scandal! (Seriously. I got a little giddy over how much under-the-table stuff was going on in the King’s court! Wowza!) Gilt isn’t just about drama, though: it’s about choices—good or bad—and how they lock you into certain situations. It’s about the inevitability of fun coming to an end. Though Catherine’s are coming true, her visible happiness may only be surface-deep. The simultaneous complexity and pure fun of Gilt is fantastic. Highly recommended!

5/5 stars

For those who like: historical fiction, court drama, overconfident heroines.