Author: Katherine Longshore
Expected publication: May 15th 2012 by Viking Juvenile
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for review. All quoting is subject to change.
Summary: "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."
First line: "'You're not going to steal anything.'"
Thoughts: First off, I have to tell you what a huge fan of the Tudors I am. I love reading, watching, and learning about Henry VIII and his six wives. Needless to say, when I first heard about GILT, I knew I had to get my hands on it immediately. With all the glamour, gossip, and controversy of the Tudors court, GILT offers it's readers a look into the life of Catherine Howard. The twist? It's not told through her point of view. After all, isn't a story always better when it's told through the eyes of a queen's best friend?
The story begins with Katherine "Kitty" Tylney, Catherine "Cat" Howard, and the other girls living with the dowager duchess. As you know from history, the girls were quite wild back then. After all, they're teenagers and living with the dowager duchess means they'll be trained to be the wives of dukes and such. Some of these girls (like Alice) are already married, whereas others (like Cat) are hoping to score a rich lord or duke. Kitty just wants to be a part of a family. Since her parents clearly have no interest in her, she finds comfort in her best friend Cat, even though Cat makes her do things she doesn't want to do. Even back then, Cat acted like a queen and people treated her like one.
When Cat is invited to be a part of Queen Anne of Cleaves ladies in waiting, she leaps at the opportunity. After all, if you're not at court, you're nobody. With Cat's absense, the midnight parties cease to exist, and for the first time in a long time, Kitty feels alone. Luckily, she has the very so charming William to keep her company. He's the Duke of Norfolk's personal messenger and boy, are the walks outside with him and Kitty oh so swoon-worthy. I have to admit, the pacing in the first half of the book ran a little slow. In a way, I think this was on purpose because it shows that Cat really was the life of the party. When you lose your best friend, life becomes dullier and less satisfying. What kept be reading were the stolen moments with William and the controversy to come.
As the novel progresses, you begin to read about Cat's accension to the throne. Kitty can no longer call her Cat and must address her as Your Majesty. You see how life is in the court of King Henry, and let's just say it is both enticing and dangerous. To quote The Black Keys, "Lies, lies, lies, ooooh lies." William warned Kitty about life at court, but that didn't stop her. As if it could. When the Queen of England summons you, you come.
I loved how Longshore portrayed Catherine's character. It was right on the money. From Catherine's frivolous nature to her scheming and selfishness, Longshore did an incredible job bringing this once real queen back to life. It seemed as though Catherine's less than honorable traits intensified when she became queen. Kitty continued to defend her and protected her, but Cat did not always do the same for Kitty. I'm not going to go into details, but let's just say I hated Catherine Howard.
If you know the story, you know about Thomas Culpepper. This is another character Longshore hit on the money as well. The only thing is, I wish there was a bit more romance between him and Catherine. I felt like she saved all the "love" for Francis Dereham and not Thomas Culpepper. After all, didn't Culpepper use to send Catherine secret love letters? His cruel nature, though? Longshore covered that aspect exceptionally.
More boys! Let's talk about Edmund for a minute. He's Kitty's other
I also want to discuss Jane Boelyn for a second. For those who have watched The Tudors series on Showtime, compared to the way they depicted Jane's character, I did enjoy Longshore's version better. You see her as a person who's sole purpose is serving the queen. Jane's life has been far from easy, and it only got worse. Of all the characters, I truly felt the worst for her. This book clearly shows that there's a fine line between duty, honor, love, and betrayal.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading GILT. I've read quite a few historical fiction novels, and this is by far one of the better ones. I loved reading about Kitty's experience in court and her experiences outside of it. She truly was a loyal, honorable friend, and anyone would be lucky to have a Kitty in their life. Walking into this, even knowing the story behind Catherine Howard, I couldn't help but feel teary-eyed towards the end. It's incredibly bitter sweet (more bitter than anything). In the end, it does leave you with a message of hope, and really, what is life without hope?