Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Gilt Katherine Longshore

Henry the VIII's many wives are common fodder for books for adults, not as much for YA (and when it is YA, it's more the princesses who get coverage, as they're the teens involved-- are there any good ones on Lady Jane Grey?) ANYWAY. Even in the shelves of Tudor fiction, Catherine Howard doesn't get a lot of play.

When this book came out, I was surprised that we hadn't seen more about her for YA before. When you think about it, her story is *perfect* for YA-- politics, romance, sex, death, pretty dresses, a teen queen who doesn't grasp the political realities surrounding her and a doomed relationship.

This one is narrarated by Catherine's friend Katherine TInley. Cat and Kitty have grown up together in the house of the Dowager Countess of Norfolk, with other daughters of minor nobility who have been sent there to be ignored or forgotten. Cat is then chosen to be a member of the new queen's household. After Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves dissolves, he marries Cat, and Cat brings Kitty and their friends to court, where they are thrust into Cat's dangerous games of lust and sex. They can see what Cat can't-- how very close she is to the edge. They all remember what happened to the former queen, Anne Boleyn--why doesn't Cat?

Those with even a glancing knowledge of history know that those who marry Henry VIII don't find success. It's not a huge spoiler to say that Cat and others will lose their heads by the end of the novel.

Despite knowing the ending, it's a great ride to get there. Kitty's torn between a few guys-- there's the one who parents have betrothed her to, the one that Cat's set her up, and the one that Kitty actually likes. It's a really interesting look at the lack of agency people had when it came to family and politics. In addition to all of the stolen moments in dark corners and the glittering wealth, Longshore does a great job of painting the tension and the danger. Kitty can see that the game Cat is playing won't end well. She keeps waiting for the shoe to drop, and when it does, it happens so slowly that Cat doesn't notice until they come to arrest her.

I also really liked the characterization of Lady Rochford. One thing I've learned from reading my friend's blog that looks at Anne Boleyn novels is that Lady Rochford is often a bit evil. In Gilt she's a survivor who is just trying to remain a survivor.

It was great that will appeal to historical fiction fans as well as "rich mean girl" fans.

ARC Provided by... the publisher at ALA.

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1 comment:

sonetka said...

I loved this one also -- not just for the believable Lady Rochford (I need to do a full post on her one day but it'll take a lot of pulling together since in fiction she does everything short of eating babies) but also for its characterization of Cat; watching her destroy herself is frightening and maddening at the same time. I especially liked Kitty's description of her when she's asking for the block to practice positioning her head (something the real Katherine Howard did apparently do). "Cat was about to die and she was acting like ... Cat." Great line.