Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Thoughts on Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Gilt is a young adult version of the life of Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, narrated from the perspective of her most loyal friend, Katherine Tylney, the Kitty to her Cat.


Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance.

Rating: 4


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.



Gilt is a young adult version of the life of Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, narrated from the perspective of her most loyal friend, Katherine Tylney, the Kitty to her Cat.

Despite being best friends ever since Kitty could remember, she and Cat have completely opposite personalities. Cat is the bossy leader, the Queen of Misrule, and eventually the Queen of England, while Kitty always seemed content silently doing Cat’s bidding while feeling safe in the knowledge that they needed each other as friends.

This was my main issue with this book; that both Kitty and Cat were very hard to like as characters. Kitty’s character seemed especially weak and dependent upon this girl who never treated her like an equal, and Cat was always so cruel that it was hard to understand why Kitty chose to remain so loyal to her. Kitty’s constant excuse is that Cat needs her, which was clearly untrue, unless you count needing someone to boss around. In addition, Kitty claims that without Cat she is nobody, and will have to leave court forever, but as you get to know Kitty’s character, you are also aware that she doesn’t like the secrets and intrigue of court life, and doesn’t like being in the spotlight. I believe that the author intended to show Kitty as a naïve girl unable to make her own decisions in the beginning of the book, and then have her slowly mature as the book goes on, but I found that she was just as helpless and in need of support at the end.

Another important point I should mention is the large amount of adult level romance and unsuitable comments for a young adult book. Kitty has her own romantic adventures, but generally they are more innocent than Cat’s treasonous actions and the suggestions made by various flirting couples.

What I did enjoy about this book were the constant hooks that kept you reading, even though there weren’t any bloody battles or daring quests that keep you on the edge of your seat, the secrets, intrigue and mysteries of King Henry VIII’s court and the scandal surrounding it was excitement enough. My favorite part of this book is when on a rainy, dreary day, Cat proposes a game of hide-and-seek in the castle, where the women hide and their male partners get to pursue them. Something I have always wanted to do is play hide-and-seek on a rainy day in a huge mansion full of secret hideouts and mysterious, spider-web filled corners and passages. It is the small adventures like this one that keep the reader interested. And, of course, the need to find out what happens to Cat and Kitty, and how long they are able to survive with the weight of all their secrets resting on their shoulders.

Gilt taught me the basics of King Henry VIII’s court, while filling in the gaps in history with thrilling romance (both love and lust) and mystery. This book opened the doors to the Tudor era for me, and has greatly piqued my interest. I look forward to reading the next book by this author, Tarnish, which tells the story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife.


4 comments on “Gwen’s Thoughts on Gilt by Katherine Longshore

  1. Kileh Friedman
    October 5, 2013

    A very interesting time in history. I watched the Tudors on Showtime and was all caught up in the life and times of Henry Vlll. I then read two incredible novels by Hillary Mantel that focused on the life of Thomas Cromwell, the King’s secretary. The second book called Bringing Up the Bodies was about the downfall of Ann Boleyn. Quite a fascinating story of power and politics. When you were in with the King you were in but when you were out….Oy vey.

    • gwenkate
      October 6, 2013

      Kileh – I love this time in history! My history teacher recommended the book you were talking about, Wolf Hall, and I gave it a try. I read until page 356 before realizing it really wasn’t about Wolf Hall (the birth place of Jane Seymour), Thomas Cromwell was going to remain the main character, and the plot wasn’t going to move any faster. I did enjoy what I read though, and maybe I’ll give it another try in a few years. I’ll probably enjoy it more, now that I know what to expect. ~Gwen

  2. Pingback: Gwen’s Ramblings on Tarnish (Prequel to Gilt) by Katherine Longshore | Gwen & Kate's Library

  3. Pingback: Gwen’s Resources: Royalty Explained | Gwen & Kate's Library

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This entry was posted on October 5, 2013 by in Author: Gwen, Review, Young Adult and tagged , .
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