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.
Cat Howard has spent her entire young life preparing to go to court. And Kitty, her best friend and confidant, has spent her entire young life in Cat’s shadow. When Cat gets her wish and is whisked away into the seductive court of King Henry VIII, Kitty finds herself in a world of scandal, lust, luxury and betrayal. One wrong move and it could be off with their heads.
Before reading Gilt, I knew very little about the King Henry VIII’s fifth wife… Except the fate that awaited her at the end of the marriage. But I did not know the circumstances that led to Catherine Howard’s tragic end. Katherine Longshore’s Gilt (Viking) gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of the ill-fated queen and the down-right-dirty court of England’s most infamous king.
Kitty is an interesting main character in that she’s more of an observer than a participant. She flits around the edges of court and yet as Cat’s best friend she is right in the middle of all the scandal. Her absolute devotion to Cat makes her a pretty weak character. I wanted to cheer when she finally grows a backbone and takes a stand. It was about bloody time! Despite her being quite a passive character, she’s very believable. Longshore did a fantastic job of showing just how stifled Kitty is by Cat. She’s like a kicked puppy that keeps coming back hoping for affection and it’s pretty heart-breaking. I really wanted things to work out for Kitty. She’s just looking for love in a place where love doesn’t exist.
Cat on the other hand is the complete opposite. She is arrogant, selfish, foolhardy and manipulative. She has the power and knows exactly how to use it. In short, Cat is a total B****! She is the epitome of a frenemy. The way she treats Kitty, someone she considers her closest friend in the world, is appalling. In a sick way you pretty much end up rooting for her downfall. I hate Cat as a person but I absolutely love her as a character!
And let’s just get this out of the way right now: Kitty and Cat? Ick. However, once you get past the cutesiness, the names actually suit the characters really well. Cat is wild and fierce; Kitty is meek and needs to learn to stand on her own outside of Cat’s shadow. So don’t let the names turn you off this book because the story is enthralling. I devoured this book, needing to know just how it turned out for these two girls who are so different and yet irrevocably tied together. I couldn’t tear my eyes away as the girls spiraled downwards towards the impending tragedy.
I wasn’t entirely convinced that the narrator/characters’ language was authentic to the time period, but the description (especially of the smells and the garments) is very evocative and helped transport me through time. I appreciated that vven though the story becomes quite austere, it ends on a note of hope and possibility.
Gilt is Gossip Girl for history lovers. It is salacious, scandalous and filled with innuendo. It paints a very intriguing picture of courtly affairs—especially the affairs going on behind closed doors, where all that is truly known is rumour and conjecture. Gilt is a guilty pleasure I highly recommend (at least, to those who don’t blush easily).