Gilt by Katherine Longshore
Author: Katherine Longshore
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
How I Read It: ARC received from the publisher – The views expressed in my review are mine alone and I have received no compensation for these opinions.
Synopsis: 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.
My Review: The new trend in historical fiction seems to be telling the story of Catherine Howard through the perspective of Katherine Tylney, allegedly one of her best friends. For those who aren’t familiar with this story, Kitty Tylney is a historical figure, but not much is known about her. She lived with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk during the same time that Catherine Howard was there, the two were around the same age, so it’s a fair assumption that they had a friendship on some level.
Although this book is about Kitty, and is told from her perspective, the tale intertwines her story very heavily with Cat’s, which means that the story essentially revolves around Cat. Kitty is basically with Cat from the start, witnessing Cat’s escapades while they are girls and eventually going to court to serve under her as queen. As the story progresses, Kitty realizes she is simply living a life in Cat’s shadow, wanting things because Cat wants them, and not doing anything for herself.
The frustrating thing was seeing her know this, and not really doing anything about it. While Cat was definitely stuck in the situation she found herself in, Kitty has plenty of opportunities to get out and chooses to stay with Cat. Her rationalization is that without Cat, she would be nothing. However, I don’t know if being grateful to someone means you owe them the potential to lose your head on the block, which is essentially what Kitty is risking in this story.
That being said, her misplaced loyalty in Cat is admirable, and it was sweet to see her stay despite her best interests. Kitty does try to stand up to Cat in a few situations, but it becomes obvious that it’s a bit futile to do that. Even before she was queen, Cat was always getting her way, usually at someone else’s cost.
My heart went out to Kitty in this story because I don’t think I would have stayed in the same situation. The fate of Anne Boleyn is ever present in this story, being mentioned regularly as Cat becomes more and more involved with Thomas Culpeper, and I don’t think I would have remained that loyal of a friend if I had been in Kitty’s situation.
I also think this portrays a more realistic point of view of what would have really happened to someone in Kitty’s position. In other novels, she really just gets away with no risk, which has always confused me. In this one, you truly do not know what her fate will be given her involvement in Cat’s life. That’s one of the fun parts of a relatively unknown historical figure – you can do what you want with their fate! We all know what really happened to Catherine Howard, but who really knows what happened to Katherine Tylney.
Read this book if: I would think most fans of historical fiction will enjoy this one. Catherine Howard is one of my least favorite of Henry VIII’s wives, and this story does nothing to redeem her for me, but Kitty’s story kept me going.
My Rating: 3.5/5 – Two thumbs up, fine holiday fun!