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The Gilded Lily

(Westmorland #2)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  643 ratings  ·  113 reviews
A spellbinding historical novel of beauty and greed and surprising redemption

England, 1660. Ella Appleby believes she  is destined for better things than slaving as a housemaid and dodging the blows of  her drunken father. When her employer dies suddenly, she seizes her chance--taking his valuables and fleeing the countryside with her sister for the golden prospects of Lon
Paperback, 471 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published September 13th 2012)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  643 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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Jenny Q
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Seventeenth-century London comes to life in this gritty story about sisters and survival. It's a tale of the inner workings of London and the many people who make up the great machine of industry and commerce that keeps it all running. Though Charles II rules over them with his notoriously extravagant and debauched court, it means nothing to the characters of this tale, who must fight, grasp, struggle, and reach for any opportunity at a better life among the trash-heaped, grime-covered, cutthroa ...more
Amy Bruno
New tour with HF Virtual Book Tours...September 2012 for UK release and November 2012 for US release!
Heather C
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Knowing that the author had previously released The Lady's Slipper, and knowing that it was a companion piece to The Gilded Lily, I tried to find the opportunity to read it first, however due to time constraints that just did not happen. I had concerns that I would feel like I was missing something. I am happy to say that is not the case at all – however at times I made note that I would probably have had a more well-rounded reading experience had I read The Lady’s Slipper first.

Swift’s stronges
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Set in the 1660s, the story follows Ella and Sadie Appleby, girls from rural England who flee to London after a tragedy with Ella's employer, and there they find themselves struggling to survive. Restoration London for these two is dark, dank, dirty, and exhausting, and Swift's writing made the grime, fog, and muck all too real. (I wanted to shower every time I put the book down!)

Ella -- beautiful and bold -- gets a job as a sales girl at an unusual ladies boutique called The Gilded Lily. Sadie
Holly Weiss
Formerly released in England to rave reviews, this book is finally available in the US on November 27. Greed, adventure, danger, mystery, and history combine for a memorable, absorbing read.

You will be hooked by this masterfully told story by the middle of chapter one. Sisters Ella and Sadie Appleby flee their home in Westmoreland by night after the suspicious death of Ella’s employer. Danger lurks around every corner and the reader is caught up in an engrossing adventure. Can Ella and Sadie sta
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love reading historical fiction and this book is a great example of a good historical fiction book. The plot is exciting and kept me reading, I could not figure out how Ella and Sadie were going to get themselves out of the mess they found themselves in. They seemed to be in danger everywhere they turned and it really made this book a fast page turner.

The characters are interesting, but Swift really only takes the time to bring out the characters of the two sisters into any detail. Sadie and E
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
As readers we first met Ella Appleby in the pages of The Lady's Slipper. In that story Ella was portrayed as a somewhat conniving young lady who would let nothing and no-one step in the way of what she wants. And what Ella wants more than anything is to be a fine lady, sleeping in expensive linen, dressed in gorgeous clothes.

Initially, Ella is convinced that the best way to achieve that goal is to become mistress to Thomas Ibbetson, but that plan goes awry when Thomas falls seriously ill and die
Nov 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm not sure why this book received so many 5 stars, to me it was too drawn out and rather dull. Yes it does shed light on the darker side of London in the 1600 and the writing is not bad, it's just not great.
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I'll be honest here I'm in the fortunate position of receiving quite a few free books and win quite a few too and the excitement of winning a signed copy of a brand new title of a book I've heard good things about never dissipates (OK I admit that I'm a hopeless book addict). Which is why I literally jumped for joy when I won a signed copy of The Gilded Lily through www.

I KNEW I was going to like this historical fiction set in grimy, 17th century, restoration
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delicate and finely woven, this golden novel shines brightly as a beautiful historical narrative.

“Beauty is skin-deep. Blood runs deeper” The exquisite, beautiful cover of this novel is striking, standing out on the bookshelf from other novels as it takes you back in time even before you open its pages. I was so excited by the prospect of reading a new fictional work within a genre that I adore, by an author whose work I had not encountered before and yet now whom I hope I will discover more of
Colleen Turner
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I reviewed this book for

After her employer dies suddenly, Ella Appleby grabs everything of value and her younger sister, Sadie, and runs for the anonymity of London. Believing she is destined for a better life than as an obedient servant to uncaring masters or an abusive father, she sees London as her chance to start fresh with endless possibilities. But 1661 London is filthy, overcrowded and cruel and while Ella’s country beauty blends in with others around them Sadie’s disti
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I struggled to get through this book and it took me just over a month to finish, which is a long time. I forced myself to complete it (when I might otherwise DNFed) because, at the time, I could not put my thumb on what bothered me. I felt it was unfair to give up on a book without a definite reason.

The plot, two country sisters, accused of murdering and robbing their master, their flight to London, and subsequent struggles to evade the law sounds like it should be a real page turner. I can find
Jo Barton
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1660, and following the suspicious death of their employer, Ella and Sadie Appleby are forced to flee their native Westmorland. They head for the bright lights of the capital city where the sisters try to eke out a living, first as perruquiers at Madame Lefevre’s wig making shop, and then, when Ella is seduced by the ostentatious glamour of the beauty parlour on Friarsgate, Sadie, the more fragile of the two, is left to cope as best she can.
Whilst there is sometimes an air of romanticism atta
Charlotte Betts
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed The Lady’s Slipper so looked forward to reading the companion novel, The Gilded Lily, which continues the story of Ella Appleby. I wasn’t disappointed. Deborah Swift’s lush writing carries you to another, darker, time and place.
In the harsh winter of 1661 Ella Appleby and her sister, Sadie, flee Westmoreland in the dead of night after Ella robs her dead employer. They hope to hide themselves in the teeming streets of London but a game of cat and mouse ensues as the dead man’s brother m
Terry Tyler
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've just read this in two days - yes, folks, I couldn't put it down!

The Gilded Lily is a Restoration period drama about two sisters who run away from rural Westmorland to London after the elder one, Ella, robs the house in which she was in service. There is also doubt cast about her part in two deaths. It's about survival in the frightening, dark, murky alleys and squalid lodgings down by the Thames, and the steps Ella and Sadie take not to be discovered for their crimes. The novel is extremely
Jessica McCann
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Received this as a Christmas gift. Heard so many good things about it. Can't wait to crack it open.

Update: This was a great read. My favorite novels not only tell a captivating story but also sweep me away to a time and place I've never seen. The Gilded Lily, a dark tale set in 17th century London, expertly does both. Part historical novel, part psychological thriller, this book touches on some of the most sinister and deplorable aspects of human nature and is by no means a light read.

It's clea
Eliza Graham
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Deborah Swift's portrayal of seventeenth-century London has an edge to it which cuts through the sumptuousness of her description. This is a book I stayed up late to read several nights in a row. Her London is a place of opportunity and hazard. Fortunes can be made and necks can be broken on the gallows. The latter fate might be that of two sisters: Sadie and Ella. How do people react to extreme pressure? Ella develops an edge as sharp and brittle as the glassware her employer, Jay, admires so m ...more
Katharine Ott
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
"The Gilded Lily" - written by Deborah Swift and published in 2012 by St Martin's Press. This historical fiction novel set in 1660s London flew by (469 pages) and I enjoyed the descriptive writing that put you right in the middle of a cold, wet and really filthy town. This book follows "The Lady's Slipper" but I didn't feel left out by not having read it. Sisters Ella and Sadie flee their countryside lives when Ella's employer dies, but not before stripping his home of many valuables. The brothe ...more
Literally just finished this book. I very much enjoyed it, though it didn't have much depth. A fun and fairly fluffy bit of historical fiction.

I don't know much about urban England in the 1660s, though I've read about life in the country, particularly during the plague--so this trip to the city taught me a lot. I waffled over whether to include this in my "good world-building" category and I'm going for it, though mostly because this time wasn't familiar to me and yet I could see everything cle
Mirren Jones
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction isn't normally my genre choice but I came across Deborah Swift by chance on Twitter, when I won this book for being her 2,000th follower!

I'm really glad this happened because otherwise I might never have read what turned out to be an absolute cracker of a novel, right from the off, that I stayed up late to read over several nights. Deborah's story is set in the 17th century, and flits from Westmorland to London. Her writing is evocative, atmospheric and brimming with rich des
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
"The Gilded Lily" is a story about two sisters, Ella and Sadie, two sisters in Restoration England in the 1660s. It is also the companion novel to Swift's earlier book "The Lady's Slipper," which I have not read yet but plan to after reading this book. "The Gilded Lily" is a total stand alone story so you don't need to read "The Lady's Slipper" first. You will enjoy this book just fine!

The story jumps off quickly when the sisters end up in London after Ella plans a scheme that could end with the
Impeccably detailed The Gilded Lily drops the reader right in the poverty and squalor of 17th century London. So vivid are the descriptions you can almost smell the stench, see the overwhelming gulf between the rich and dirt poor, experience the bitter cold and terrible hunger. With research and passion Deborah Swift has excelled with conveying time and place.

The dynamic between sisters Ella & Sadie is pivotal to the story, giving it momentum but honestly my hand was itching to slap Ella fo
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elli by: Deborah Swift
Kindle edition. Really enjoyed this book. It's a continuation of the story involving some of the characters from Ms. Swift's first novel. Ella, the maidservant is really not very nice and out to take advantage of everything that might come her way. Her one real loyalty is her sister, Sadie, whom she had planned to bring to live with her as soon as that was possible. However things did not turn out that way, and she and her sister were heading in quite a fast timed way towards London where Ella p ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was truly an unexpected wonder. From the first page to the last, I was captivated by these two young sisters. It’s 1661. Ella and Sadie Appleby live in England. When Ella’s employer Thomas Ibbetson dies, she packs up all of his valuables she can carry and flees the countryside taking her sister with her. They mean to disappear in London. Begin fresh new lives. Simple enough plan. However……. What happens between the however and the last page is nothing short of brilliant.

Truly a masterful s
I found this story to be a bittersweet tale of what happens to people when they make choices in life and have to deal with the outcome. Throughout this story, Ella makes bad choices and her behavior is shocking towards her sister, Sadie. As you're reading this story you wonder how Ella redeems herself and at the same time can't help admire her for her will to survive no matter the situation. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive at times about turning the page to see what happens next

The d
MaryannC.Book Fiend
There are some books that make you feel like you have stepped into the world youre reading about and this was one of them. This was very well written with details that I could clearly envision as I read about this time in England during 1661. Ella and Sadie are on the run after ransacking Ella's employer's home after he dies, taking with them valuables which provide a means of surviving the harsh, poor life they find in London. Filled with descriptions of this period, this story had me coming ba ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Deborah Swift's second book and is a companion to her first title, The Lady's Slipper. It features Ella, the maid, taking her story further and developing it. That said The Gilded Lily can be read as a stand alone title and would work equally well.
An enjoyable read which brings to life Restoration London, well researched, visually scenic (almost filmic?) and with a good cast of characters.
The Lit Bitch
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
An exciting adventure! I felt the urgency, anxiety, and fear that the sisters were experiencing about being caught by the London authorities. I also felt the tension grow between them and their relationship change….Swift nailed the sisters relationship dynamics. I loved the setting and suspense of the story! A true page turner!

See my full review here
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful novel. I feel in love with Sadie right from the start. I detested Ella at times but i understood her actions. A rich story, full of mystery and intrigue. Plenty of excellent supporting characters.
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I am a novelist living in the Lake District in England. I write historical fiction but read widely - contemporary and classic fiction. I choose my books carefully, so I don't read many duds. If I do, they are not reviewed here, as a gesture of respect to other writers.

I blog at my website

Other books in the series

Westmorland (2 books)
  • The Lady's Slipper (Westmorland, #1)