Not gonna lie, I will read the shit out of most young adult historical fiction books about the Tudors. Seriously, that noise with King Henry VIII is like a reality show with how many wives he goes through. YOU GUYS Gilt by Katherine Longshore fulfilled all my wildest historical fiction dreams AND MORE. I love historical fiction but have been burned with some bad ones lately, and y’all I am here to let you know Gilt is one of the GOOD ones.
Gilt is told from the first person perspective of Katherine ‘Kitty’ Tylney, BFF and chambermaid of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII. The story moves from Norfolk House and Catherine Howard’s affair with Francis Dereham all the way up to Catherine Howard’s death. Y’all there is SO much scandal and thus AWESOME all up in the plot. Catherine Howard is the original Regina George. Like seriously, she’s so catty and mean to her friends. I though that Kitty Tylney was the perfect vehicle for the story and plot because she’s close to Catherine Howard, yet she’s a sympathetic character unlike Catherine.
Friends, I LOVED reading about Catherine Howard’s court through Kitty’s critical eye. Her observances on the position of women as arm pieces are GOLD. We get legit character growth as we read about Kitty’s hero-worship of Cat, Kitty’s mistakes and her painful realizations about friendship. I could help but think – girl, your BFF is toxic, WAKE UP. Yet, Kitty’s imperfections go a long way in making her human. I think everyone makes mistakes and sometimes we idolize the wrong sort of people and so, while I was sort of judging Kitty, I also rooted for her.
Plus? You know how with historical fiction the writing can be either really annoying and too authentic OR really annoying and too modern? Well, Katherine Longshore’s Gilt was neither. I mean, never once was I like ‘did people really talk like that’ or ‘is there a google translator for this?’ Instead, I felt that Longshore nailed the sense of place and time WHILE keeping me riveted. Straight up, this book, Gilt, is very well written. I found myself wanting to walk across the room to grab sticky flags for certain pages, or wanting to read out loud just to see how certain phrases, like “Alice collected secrets the way the rest of us collected ribbons” roll off the tongue.
Oh, and peeps, this book, I cannot even begin to mention ALL THE SCANDALS! Illicit love-making, yo! Midnight parties! Lies! And okay, it is basically rated PG-13, for those who do not love the XXX. AHHH! And f’realz I wanted to hop on Netflix after reading Gilt by Katherine Longshore and watch The Tudors and read Margaret George’s The Autobiography Of Henry VIII because I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH.
Frankly, I am not sure how anyone can say history is boring once they move beyond dates and treaties. Gilt by Katherine Longshore shows that history has all the makings of the best soap opera or movie once we get to its heart – the motivations and maneuverings of the people who lived it.