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.
Court politics is practically synonymous with scandal, betrayal, and lies. Basically, it’s a gossip monger’s dream where everyone looks out for themselves. Gilt by Katherine Longshore excels in drawing you into the world of the Tudors. The court is like the providable holy land for every would-be aristocrat and social climbers.
Our main character, Kitty, wishes to go to court like the others and it’s granted when her best friend, Catherine, becomes queen. Be careful what you wish for, etc. Soon, she’s plunged into the world where everyone is a sycophant, schemer, and secrets are currency. Early on in Gilt, Kitty is described as Cat’s “shadow” and that pretty much defines her for the rest of the book. Everything she does is for the sake of Cat, no matter how vicious and toxic she is. Although I could see why Kitty is so loyal to Cat, it’s frustrating because she’s ridiculously self-sacrificing for her friend. Especially when Cat is not by any means a great friend, she’s clearly a manipulator and it’s stated several times in the book that she only cares for herself. The characters in this book weren’t likable but they were interesting. It was like reading a train wreck with bad decisions piled after another.
Overall, I enjoyed Katherine Longshore’s writing. Even though there were some anachronistic tendencies, I thought her language was readable without being stuffy. I really liked the way the world was crafted because I felt like I was watching from the sidelines of all the drama and intrigue. A solid historical fiction!
Sound: New Order – Ceremony
This is why events unnerve me,
They find it all, a different story,
Notice whom for wheels are turning,
Turn again and turn towards this time,
All she asks the strength to hold me,
Then again the same old story,
Word will travel, oh so quickly,
Travel first and lean towards this time.
I love New Order and this song was featured on the soundtrack of a film featuring another ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. I feel like this song captures how the court is built on the foundation of scandal and rumours. As this book demonstrates, it can definitely break you and every person in court has something to hide. That’s why their hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.