Book Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Posted March 27, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Gilt by Katherine LongshoreGilt by Katherine Longshore
Published by Viking Juvenile on May 15th, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 406
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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.

4 Stars

When I decided to try out more historical fiction, the one young adult series that kept getting recommended was Katherine Longshore’s Tudor-inspired books. High ratings all around, and who can resist a good Tudor book? Gilt centers on Catherine Howard’s reign which make my relationship with this book a bit strained, but I did still enjoy it.

See, the thing is, I hate Catherine Howard. Everything I’ve read and heard about her just makes me cringe, and Gilt makes the cringe reaction even more prominent because Gilt‘s main character is Kitty, Cat’s best friend, who consistently gets emotionally abused. Cat is so, pardon me, FUCKED up. The emotional blackmail she dishes out constantly and her self-centered and conceited nature just always fill me with rage. And I felt all of the sympathy for Kitty, because it was so undeserved.

Kitty’s life pretty much sucks all around. Not only does Cat treat her like shit, but her family has ditched her, she has a romantic mishap, and she is a witness and victim of the prominent misogyny of this time period. Although Cat can be a real bitch to her, she’s also the only person who is ever remotely kind to her. So when Cat’s actions and their close secrets-ridden relationship make her feel special and loved, it’s hard to let go of that. Kitty is unwavering in her loyalty, and oftentimes, though this means her actions enable Cat’s crimes, Kitty appears to be the only one with any honor at court.

What I can give tremendous praise is the historical accuracy of Gilt. Longshore certainly did her research, and it shows. It fits with everything I know about the Tudors, and though I’m no history scholar, I do know quite a bit. Henry here is actually old and fat and rather disgusting. Cat’s personality, frustrating as it is, is spot on. She’s a character you love to hate, and I frequently wished I could throw things at her. While Kitty continually permitting the emotional abuse to take place frustrated me immensely, I could also truly understand that with her position, there was little else she could do.

I must say that I’m not the biggest fan of the writing itself. Not to say that it’s bad really, but since I grew up in the US but am now in the Netherlands where I’m surrounded by British English, I noticed quite often that the dialogue was too American-ized. At least, that’s how it felt to me. Phrases, sentence structures… they didn’t sound quite as authentic as I may have expected. It made it difficult when I tried to imagine the dialogue with British accents. Sometimes the flow was just interrupted and I had to let it go to continue on with the book, but it did annoy me a little.

I think I can definitely say that this book is good, but my liking of it is obviously inhibited due to how uncomfortable Catherine Howard always makes me feel. I liked reading this, but I’m not sure I would reread it because just asdfjkl; I feel VERY conflicted. While I definitely respect the amount of research done to make this as historically accurate as possible, it made it hard to endure when there was scarcely a glimmer of hope. Books that get me cheering for them have messages of character growth and strong female characters and such, and Kitty frustrated me in that respect.

HOWEVER, I will say that the ending redeemed A LOT for me. While I did also wish that there would be more chemistry-laden beautiful romance (for Kitty) and I was lacking some feels, I liked the way it ended. The character growth, while minor, was there. So in the end, yes, I liked this book quite a bit, and I think it bodes well for my future experiences with Longshore’s work. If she made me like such an infuriating story about Catherine Howard, I think it can only go up from here.

Summing Up:

This review is ALL OVER THE PLACE but in a way, that’s a good thing, because this book made me feel so many things. Sadly no big romantic feels (I’m mourning for you, William), but I have scarcely felt so empathetic for a main character. Such misogyny and emotionally abusive friendships are hard for me to handle, so I felt rather uncomfortable at points, but no one can say this book isn’t extremely historically accurate. It’s hard to evaluate a book when it’s qualitatively really good but it made you feel rather icky. While the writing could have been better, this was Longshore’s debut novel, and I think I can expect to have a great relationship with her other and future works.

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

Tudor history buffs, fans of historically accurate fiction.

Tags: , , , ,


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 responses to “Book Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

  1. Ah, I was pretty excited about this until you mentioned the Americanised text. Hmmm…I read tons of books set in America but in this sort of context I think it would bother me.

    I LOVE history though, and the Tudors period is one of my favourites. Plus, the cover is pretty. One for me to think about!

  2. I still remember how frustrating Cat was. She annoyed me in the TV show and it was perhaps even worse in the book. This girl has some serious issues. I felt sorry for Kitty, but at the same time I wished there was more development in her character. I wish she grew a little stronger/harder. You are definitely right about the historical accuracy. It’s one of the time periods I’m most fascinated about and I had a feeling she portrayed it well, with all the backstabbing and Henry being disgusting.

  3. I’ve heard about Gilt (and Tarnish), but never really felt the desire to read it. Your review is great though, because it kind of makes me think that I’d enjoy this book if I were in the right mood to read it. Thanks for mentioning that it was well-researched; I love that in my historical fiction!

  4. I don’t usually go for historical fiction but when it comes to anything english monarchy related, or just monarchy really, I’m all in. I don’t know why I have a weird fascination with the idea of princes and princesses and kings and queens, something magical about I guess xD ANYWAYS I read a lot of Tudor family history after reading/skimming the other Boleyn Girl after finishing it I literally went on Google and read all the Tudor family bio’s so this sounds like a really interesting read. I love the politics of that time and all the aspects of it. Will have to read this ASAP! Great review 🙂

  5. You know what’s funny in a not humorous way? I have a friend from my high school years who I recently realized I’m actually really upset with, and the dynamics in the book reminded me a bit of us. Like, she’s not as bad as Cat, but there are some similar things and yeah.

    I loved that Henry was nasty. He’s so sexy in so many things. The Tudors made him a little grosser and got the disgusting wound on his leg, but he still wasn’t horrid. Well, I didn’t see the fourth season. Maybe that did happen.

    Ooh, yeah, I’ve heard that about the dialogue, but I didn’t notice because I was so into the book. When I’m absorbed, I’m really bad at being critical. I do agree about wanting more romance. I suppose that adds to the historical accuracy, but I like romance, damn it!