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.
I admit, I'm mostly a newbie when it comes to historical books. I've read a few where it's intermixed with fantasy, but it's definitely not heavy on the historical part of it. Gilt appears to be the first-I will dub it-heavy historical book. And no, I don't mean by page amount. When I say heavy, I mean, well, it sticks mostly to history, also weaving some of Longshore's own imagination into the mix.
I felt the need to point the fact that I'm a newbie to historical books, because I struggled, especially, with the beginning of the book. The author was throwing a whole bunch of historical clothing terms my way-gable hood, strood, stomacher-and if you're a reader like me, it disturbs me alot when I can't get a good visual in my head of a character. I was left sort of floundering with images until I finally gave in a looked up a ton of definitions. Because of this struggle, I had a hard time of getting into the book in the first place. If you're a history buff or you've read your fair share of historical "court" books, I don't think you will have any trouble with this book. The good thing for me is that the book could only get better.
"Kitty" or Katherine is best friends with "Cat" or Catherine. You know these types of best friends; one is controlling and always wants to get her way and the other is more quiet and goes along for the ride. This is true with Kitty and Cat. Together they form a formidable bond. In most all relationships however, there are most definitely problems. I will be frank-Cat makes a lot of mistakes, which gave her alot of room to grow. I don't feel that the author let Cat grow enough in this book, restricted by the historical accuracy. I felt that Cat should have known better, honestly. Though because this is a historical book, based on facts, I can't exactly blame the author for making Cat appear so...unaware of the consequences of her actions. I felt the opposite was true of Kitty-by the end of the book, she had changed for the better, her experiences making her wiser. She became her own person who made her own decisions. I'm glad the author didn't immediately change Kitty. It was a slow and tedious journey, but it showed how realistic the dilemma is between making your own decisions or letting some one else decide them for you. I for one, could relate to Kitty for that.
Court life is intriguing, there's no doubt about that. It lends you insight of what people do for power or money and how far people go for either of them. What I appreciate is that no one person is colored good or evil-white or black. Like any good character, they make mistakes. Court life shows this the best. There are take backs of this book, unfortunately. It felt gruesomely slow during the first half of the book, picking up pace sometimes, falling again at another. The ending, of course, became more interesting. The ending was bitter, but the author ended on a hopeful note.
This book seems to have been unfairly categorized as a historical "romance" book. This book delves so much further than that. It shows the consequences of a person's actions, picking between your best friend or yourself. Very realistic loss is portrayed beautifully in this book. It also teaches you to move on, even when you desperately want to cling to the past. This book teaches important morals in your life, and if only because of that, I think it's a well-worth read.