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Author: Katherine Longshore
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: 1st book in The Royal Circle series
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Source: purchased audiobook
This book was not what I was expecting at all. It’s not your average historical fiction, full of glittering gowns and fancy balls. Those are there, but more than anything, this book is about honor and betrayal and duty. If you’re looking for a happily ever after where the fair maiden ends up spending her days toiling around in a castle and generally being merry, you might want to pass on Gilt. However, if what you’re looking for is a more realistic look at what life at court was like during the reign of King Henry VIII, you might enjoy this novel.
I’m not very familiar with the Tudor period, but it’s apparent that the author did her research when recreating that time period in the world of Gilt. The details are there in all their sparkling glory, from the décor to the way the characters regard each other based on station. The world, although lavish, is not as pristine and dazzling as I had anticipated based on the title of the book. Sometimes it’s even slightly dreary, especially the descriptions of the dowager duchess’s estate prior to the king’s visit.
The romance in the novel wasn’t what I expected either. At this point in history, women were not allowed to choose their own husbands, so I expected some type of secret relationship to blossom. What I was not expecting, however, was the direction that relationship would take and what path it would lead our young heroine down. The synopsis makes it seem as if one of those ubiquitous love triangles is employed to further the story, but I assure you something far more sinister is at play in this novel. I’m not sure I liked the love story, but you can’t argue with history, right?
I also found it really difficult to like or even connect with any of the characters. The only person other than Kitty who had any sense of morality was one William Gibbon, the object of Kitty’s affections, and he was absent for much of the novel. I almost despised all of the characters from court, including Kitty’s best friend Cat, who was also England’s new queen after much conniving and manipulation. So many lies and so much betrayal! These people all let their loyalties to each other override their sense of honor and duty and it could all ultimately lead to their heads on a chopping block. But no one stops things before they go too far.
The author has outdone herself with this world full of deception and intrigue. I can’t say I loved this story because honestly, it’s really kind of sad, in a dark and twisted way. It’s a great read for anyone who loves historical fiction, though, or for anyone who can enjoy a story for the ride, not the destination.
Book-A-Likes: the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray