Tuesday, May 22, 2012

READING: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Publication date: May 15th, 2012
Published by: Viking Juvenile
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: 4,5/5
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.

As a big fan of The Tudors, a TV show about Henry VIII, and an even bigger fan of books, when watching season 04 I kept thinking "Wow, wouldn't it be great if there was a book about Catherine Howard, where did she come from, how she came to be a queen, how did she feel about everything?" Well, with Gilt, I got my wish! Without the hot steamy sex and Henry Cavill unfortunately, but I am not one to complain.

I admit to only knowing Cat Howard from the show. I haven't read a biography of Henry the VIII (I have one though, does that count?) so everything I know of him is from the series. Not a very reliable source, I know, but it'll have to do. In Gilt, Cat's story, surprisingly enough was not from her POV but from her "best" friend's, Kitty. Along with other young girls, they lived in a covent-type institution for ladies from not so wealthy families, either because they are orphans, or because their parents wanted to get rid of them and provide them with some sort of education, something like and old maid's school. 
Cat is always the little vixen, urging others in mischief and not shying away from any romantic offer. She is incredibly ambitious and she would do just about anything to get into court, what every young lady aspired to back then. She worms her way into Henry's life and before she knows it she becomes queen. Now, at the time, Henry was a sick man. His leg was seriously injured and smelled soooo bad and he was old. Not a husband a 17,18,19 year old dreams of having. But he was the King of England and that was all Cat wanted and needed. Besides, she had other things going for her which I am not gonna discuss here in case someone doesn't know the whole story. 

Kitty is Cat's friend in the institution. She is supposed to be the level-headed one, the one that keeps the others in check and tries not get in trouble.
On paper. Because in reality Kitty was a miserable little mouse with no backbone or sense of anything, basically. She fell in love with a guy, but she persuaded herself she couldn't and wouldn't be with him because Cat needed her in court and she just couldn't live without her best friend. A best friend who threatened her, talked down to her all the time and was flat out mean to her. Kitty for some inexplicable reason, looked up to her. I guess that explains Cat's very charismatic personality, and the reason she was able to win Henry's heart so easily.
That being said, Kitty was miserable throughout the whole book and she had no one to blame for her misery but herself. She made her choices and every one of them was wrong because they were all based on making a person that neither loved nor respected her happy at all costs. At least that's my take.

What surprised me was how Longthorne chose to portray Culpepper. In the show he is the same smug jerk, but you can see he has some feelings for Cat and Cat is deeply and madly in love with him. In Gilt, Culpepper is this deranged villain, drunk with power, and Cat couldn't care less about him. So, I don't know which side of him is closer to the truth but the romantic in me hopes it's the first one.

Debuts are always hard, but a historical fiction debut must be even harder. You have to have your facts straight and do a lot of research. Even though what I know about Henry and his life story comes from a TV show, Longshore made me believe she knows what she's talking about and that's enough for me.
So despite Kitty's general absurdity, Gilt was a very good historical novel about the life and demise of a woman you can't help but be intrigued by.
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6 comments:

  1. I recently read (and will be reviewing) The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby which was published in 2009 and is also about Catherine Howard. I was surprised another book was based on her when I first heard of Gilt, but it sounds really good.

    I haven't watched the show but I've heard about it a lot and I really want to. It sounds great.

    I am glad you liked this one. As for Culpepper, I read somewhere that he was sort of a villain. He was accused of rape and possibly murder before he went to Henry's court. When he and Catherine met, they did have feelings for each other. He is portrayed as a sweet guy with a lot of affection towards her in the book I read, but who knows what he was really like.

    Great review :)

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  2. I saw this at the book store recently :D Sounded very interesting.

    I also am obsessed with the tudors.

    You do not hear many tudor ya novels ^_^

    Great review XD

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  3. I wonder if you have ever read Gregory's books since she does historical fiction for adults and she actually has a book about Catherine as well. Plus since it is adult there will be all of the scandals and steaminess included. :)

    I can't wait to read this one. I love this time period and while I always have doubts about YA authors writing about this time period because they can only include so much of the scandal that these times were I'm excited for this one.

    Glad you liked it, thanks for the great review!

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    Replies
    1. I have no idea why I haven't read any Gregory book yet. I always wanted to see how the era could be portrayed in YA. Longshore did a good job considering how much stuff she had to exclude in order for the book to be YA.
      Thanks for you kind words :)

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