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The Girl in a Cafe

Loving Books Since Before It Was Cool! All reviews can also be found on my main blog!

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Gilt - Katherine Longshore I'm a big Tudor fan. Wait, let's start over again. I'm a big Henry VIII fan. Anything to do with his reign I am besotted with. It's just such an amazing period in history that's so rich and full of something that just makes me shiver whenever I think about it. The courts, the dresses, the romances, the obsessions, the power play, the politics...I love it all. I remember going to Hampton Court Palace, and even the Tower of London, for the first time and thinking, "They walked here. Anne Boleyn stood in this very spot. It's a magical feeling, and if anyone who loves history - particularly the Tudors - like I do, then I'm sure that you'll understand that feeling. The one where if you close your eyes, you can almost imagine stepping into Tudor England. Wouldn't it be glorious? Sort of, any way!So it will come as no surprise then, that Katherine Longshore's debut novel filled a gap in my heart that no other book has been able to fill. This was one of those reads that I couldn't put down, it was so intoxicatingly thrilling.Gilt tells the story of Kitty Tilney, whose best friend, Catherine Howard, known as Cat, sets her sights on becoming Queen to one of the most powerful men in the world - Henry VIII. On the outside, court is considered to be one of glamour, with lavish gowns and elegant parties. But Kitty soon begins to learn about the dark side of court, and it's only too soon that time may run out for Cat and her ways.If you know anything about Henry's wives, then you'll know that Catherine was Henry's fifth wife, and the second to be beheaded for infidelity. She was also the youngest, a mere child compared to Henry's old age. While there's always been talk about who Catherine really was - a pawn in her family's game for power, or a utter bitch (excuse my French) - Longshore is able to portray a side of Catherine that I think hits the mark close to home.In a world where status is everything, Cat always knew that she was destined for more than what she was. Her downfall, however, is that she constantly strives for more. Being wife to the King wasn't enough. As soon as she realizes she's stuck in a loveless marriage, the one to blame if an heir is not produced, she turns in other directions - always at the risk of discovery. And unfortunately, she brings Kitty into her mess with a vengeance As I said before, Cat is a complete bitch. She's selfish and vain, and she doesn't understand the value of true friendships, even in her time of need. She constantly blames others for her faults. In way, you feel sorry for Cat, but then at the same time, she'll do something that will make you just want to scream.Kitty, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of Cat, considered her closest friend and confidante. She's loyal and quiet, but stronger than any of the other girls. She has to grow up so fast - they all do, really - and Kitty learns the hard way about the viciousness that runs throughout Henry's court. She learns to love and she's incredibly strong. But for all her strengths, Kitty does have her weaknesses. Her involvement in Cat's life from an early age condemns her to fall if Cat does, and she's easily manipulated by her best friend, who doesn't want to see her happy when her own fortune is not so glamorous. I felt so sorry for Kitty; any chance of some happiness and it was destroyed in some way or another. She often reminded me of the way that Mary (yes, that Mary!) was portrayed in the television series).But we all know how the story ends, and it's not a pretty one.What I loved about this novel was Longshore's passion for the subject really shining through. What I really appreciate is someone who has taken their time to put in a great effort to make sure that their novel is historically accurate. Of course, this can't happen all the time, seeing as there is still so little information that we know about the Tudor period, but Longshore works with what she has, and she uses it well. I've read a few reviews where people didn't like the way Cat was portrayed as a character, but Longshore hit the nail on the head perfectly. A young girl who wanted not just the stars, but the whole universe. A girl that was used and manipulated by her family, leaving her insecure and bitter against any one who had a chance to live happy. This is one that I'd definitely recommend for history fans and those new to historical novels alike. If you don't tend to read a lot of historical fiction, but want to, then go for this one. The language, which stays as true to the time period as much as a modern day author can write, may be a little hard to understand at first, but stick with it, and you'll be given the most wonderful story that will take your breath away. I for one am high anticipating Longshore's next novel, Tarnish!