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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.

398 pages, Hardcover

First published May 15, 2012

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Katherine Longshore

11 books365 followers

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5 stars
859 (24%)
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1,142 (32%)
3 stars
1,036 (29%)
2 stars
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141 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 566 reviews
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
October 14, 2012
Not gonna lie, I will read the shit out of most young adult historical fiction books about the Tudors. Seriously, that noise with King Henry VIII is like a reality show with how many wives he goes through. YOU GUYS Gilt by Katherine Longshore fulfilled all my wildest historical fiction dreams AND MORE. I love historical fiction but have been burned with some bad ones lately, and y’all I am here to let you know Gilt is one of the GOOD ones.
Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
November 11, 2022
I read this and then TARNISH immediately after, to give you an idea of how I felt about it. I had intended to read them in chronological order but I checked Goodreads to give me the order and it says this is #1 but it's actually not, not that it matters that much it's just personal preference. But either way, this was a really entertaining audiobook to listen to. I enjoyed that it was more of a side character that you got the perspective of. This was a tangled web of drama and intrigue of court life that honestly, I couldn't get enough of. I devoured this because it was sooo readable! A really solid YA historical fiction!
Profile Image for Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker.
596 reviews377 followers
May 6, 2012
Gilt is so perfectly named. It was my guilty pleasure. I know this is weird (and when have I not been weird) but it reminded me of my favorite pizza. Whenever I want to be lazy (which is often), and not take the time to get out the ingredients, slice and dice, and cook dinner, I get this wonderful pizza from down the street. And I love it. It is so much easier than making dinner. And really, it probably tastes better.

Gilt was my favorite pizza. It is the lazy person’s historical fiction but in the end, it is just as good as the real thing. Do I feel guilty for liking it this much? Maybe just a tad bit. Why? The book is full of modern language even though the setting is far from modern. Some of the characters lived in our history books but I do not know if they were accurately represented in this book (nor do I care). Gilt may not be the perfect book to represent the historical era portrayed in the book, but it was the perfect book for me at the right time. And just like my favorite pizza, I consumed this book.

If you’ve never read a historical fiction novel, or you’ve always been intimidated by the language used in historical fiction, this book might be the perfect book for you to break into an entirely new genre.


Sometimes a book is great not because it’s the best in its genre but just because it was right for you at the right time. Gilt was my guilty pleasure and I’m glad I had a chance to read it.

3.5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for A.C. Gaughen.
Author 7 books1,845 followers
November 30, 2011
I knew what would happen in this story. I knew how the story would end; I knew all about the story Catherine Howard. Silly and young, desperate and immature, the cousin of Anne Boleyn, the queen that changed every rule--including those that put a queen beyond suspicion, beyond treason, beyond guilt.

But I didn't know about Kitty Tylney, the queen's best friend--the Kitty to her Cat. Kitty--along with the rest of the girls in the dowager Duchess of Norfolk's household--have been virtually abandoned by their families, sent to "betterment" when they really mean oblivion. There, Catherine Howard rules--not as the prettiest, or the smartest, but simply as Queen of Misrule because she says so, and in true mean-girl fashion, everyone else falls to the power of her spell.

And it's there, in the late night secret meetings of young men and young women, in the giddy silliness of youth and flirtation, that the secrets that bring one of England's greatest monarchs to send his fifth wife to death are sown (and sewn, as it were).

But secrets are nothing without someone to keep them, and Kitty does that. Kitty holds Cat's secrets out of devastating loyalty, even when it isn't returned. I think every girl knows the pain of the capacity your childhood friends have to hurt you--sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not--and these moments made me give Kitty MY loyalty.

Kitty doesn't always make the right decisions as she navigates a cutthroat world where she can never hope to belong, but watching her find her feet and find herself amidst the lush backdrop of immaculately portrayed Tudor England was...compelling. Seductive. Addictive as HELL.

I couldn't stop reading this book; in a tale of Catherine and Katherine, it's the third, hidden Katherine--Ms. Longshore!--that totally stole my heart with her gorgeous, engrossing prose. I'm just grateful she let me keep my head.

Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,157 reviews161 followers
September 19, 2018
T/W- Rape, Death

I have really mixed feelings about Gilt, as the novel was set in my favourite historical time period (Tudor England) but the behaviour from all of the characters was immature and also, refer back to the trigger warning at the top of my review. That scene towards the first 1/3 of the novel was quite uncomfortable to read. The main character Kitty has been close friends with Catherine Howard, a young girl who goes on to marry King Henry the Eighth and brings a group of women including Kitty to serve her and live at court. It was fast paced thanks to the dialogue, but a great premise was sadly for me lacking in character connection. I loved Brazen by the same author but will not be re-reading Gilt!
Profile Image for Sarah Mac.
1,098 reviews
February 8, 2017
I had low expectations for this book & almost didn't buy it. (Impulse shopping in the grocery store book aisle...yeah, that's a crap shoot. :P) But now I'm glad I did.

The premise is simple enough -- i.e., the rise & fall of Catherine Howard as witnessed by her servant & friend Kitty Tilney. Rather than invent a new character for narrative purposes, the author chose a documented companion (Katherine Tylney) who boarded with young Catherine before her marriage & then traveled with her to the royal court. Other than her name, her job, & a few lines of interrogation, nothing is known about her. But the character Ms Longshore created rings true to the times so far as family background & stifled roles within the household & court. According to the author's notes, Ms Longshore's entire cast is based on actual people with the exception of William & Standebanke, who are Kitty's romantic choices; however, both are created from names in the recorded entourage of royals. (Wouldn't it be amusing if they really had been young & handsome? ;P)

I liked Kitty a lot. She's reluctant to assert herself & easily intimidated, but I wouldn't call her a doormat. Given her social status & lack of possibilities for advancement, I thought she was very believable. She's faced with several choices throughout the novel -- whether to obey the Queen or tattle to the King, whether to abandon court or take up with slimey Standebanke -- and none of those options are ideal. But in terms of staying alive, she makes the smarter choice; someone in her position had no real protection but to shut up & do what they're told. I enjoy authors who aren't afraid to let their characters make mistakes & live to repent them.

Speaking of Catherine...many negative reviews make mention of Kitty's passivity versus Cat. What these reviews fail to appreciate is that this is NOT a positive friendship. It's an abusive relationship wherein Kitty is the victim. Like most victims, Kitty excuses her tormenter to the point where she's deliberately blind to the toxic nature of the relationship. So, no -- it's not until the end of the book that she takes a stand against Cat. She can't do it because she's never had an opportunity, or even the will to learn how. Kitty is an exploration of emotional abuse, so don't expect two dominant females clashing over the upper hand in their friendship. (For those who want positive closure: there's an upbeat ending to Kitty's story, but not a HEA in the traditional sense.)

...Anyway, that's enough of that.

On a technical note, the writing was quite smooth. There's a conversational flow to the narration, & also some gritty moments (yay!) -- but it has a deceptive richness to the language & style. Kitty's voice reminded me of a Philippa Gregory heroine. (Also, I loved the feline motif -- references to cats, mice, & stalking begin on page 1 & continue throughout. Nice.) I noticed occasional anachronisms ("shut up" being the worst offender), but I didn't think the story was dumbed down or overly modernized. If you want hardcore dialect, read some Shakespeare.

Officially 4.5, rounded up. :)
Profile Image for Kimberly Sabatini.
Author 1 book381 followers
December 19, 2011
I'm going to be perfectly honest when I tell you that often historical fiction is not my thing. Sometimes I find the factual details to be mind numbing--but when it's done right--it gives me shivers. The truth can be scarier than the imagination.

GILT gave me shivers.

Longshore was a master of the skill, show--don't tell, particularly when it came to sharing her historical information. She painted a rich, vivid picture of the times and I never felt like I was pulled from the story in order to get the details. And then then there were the characters... I was utterly fascinated and appalled by Catherine Howard and Katherine Tylney. I couldn't look away from their friendship, escapades and dysfunction. The rest of the cast of characters were equally as engrossing--each one falling into place like the interlocking gears of a watch. When Catherine Howard was in motion, it made the whole Tudor Court spin and I couldn't look away. And lastly, I loved the play on words with the title. Gilt means to be thinly covered with gold leaf or gold paint. But if you scratch at the lightly veiled corruption of the times, you easily discover a lot of guilt.

This is one of those books that perfectly straddles the line between literary and commercial. I absolutely loved it!
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,700 reviews874 followers
May 19, 2012
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

Sometimes, with entertainment like books and television shows, it's good to take in the pure fun side of things, the guilty pleasures one doesn't necessarily advertise as favorites. I for one, am a biiig fan of hilariously bad television, like Glee, and GCB. Much like GCB, new young-adult offering Gilt isn't the most sophisticated adaption of its source material but it is hard to stop reading from the get-go. Also like the ill-fated GCB, this historical fiction jaunt into the 16th century isn't a long-lasting endeavor; though Gilt clocks in at nearly 400 pages in the official hardback edition, those pages fly by in the unputdownable telling of Katherine "Kitty" Tylney's narrative. I definitely didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I need, nor that I would rate it 4 stars when finished, despite the anachronisms and issues that do plague the novel. However, the expansive amounts of entertainment I gleaned from the few hours it took to read more than make Katherine Longshore's Tudoor historical debut one of the best guilty pleasures of 2012.

I found the friendship between Cat Howard and Kitty Tylney to be compelling, in a very sick and twisted fashion. Many of Cat's maids were warped by the Queen's manipulations, but it is poor, desperate and unloved Kitty that takes the cake. Even by looking at the nicknames chosen for each girl (by Cat, no less), it's an obvious power-imbalance between the two, with Kitty being the pale reflection of Cat's vaunted life. Gilt takes pains to make clear fairly early on how callous and dumb Cat is, and Kitty's dependence on the whims of an overly petulant child spell doom from the first chapter on. Katherine Tylney was a real courtier at the court of Henry VIII, but very little is known about her, either before or after the trial of Queen Catherine. Whoever she might have been, I have to hope that the real woman had more backbone than the one shown here. While I thoroughly and completely enjoyed her narrative, Kitty herself is a limp dishrag, a doormat who refuses to speak up for anything. It's hard to root for such a limp, weak person but the growth and self-worth her character needs is delayed but there. Eventually. Cat is compelling to read about in her hell-bent cruise for destruction - even knowing what happens to nearly every character before starting, Longshore made the ride to the expected end indelibly her own.

Despite Gilt being a debut and the first in a new series, you wouldn't know it from reading it; it flows admirably well, the looming and known demise hanging offsides and off screen. Katherine Longshore easily and quickly establishes herself as quite the natural storyteller, with the appropriate touches of foreboding and lightheartedness. Though Kitty may defy basic rules of human anatomy for 95% of the novel (because she lacks a spine... ba dum dum ch!), her story and life as Cat Howard's shadow is entirely compelling. The quick-moving pacing of the novel does it many favors as well, for as the Court moves house fresh dangers and problems await at each new locale. The author also has an obvious and natural hand for evoking a feeling of atmosphere using her words - one can really feel the tension and fear build and build as the novel progresses. A note on the title of this - I cmopletely love it; it's absolutely perfect for the novel of intrigue and backbiting it announces. I love that one single word manages to be double, and even triple-layered with meaning for the novel itself and the characters therein. Subtly alluding to the glamor that masks the danger as well as the guilt of its main characters for their respective misdeeds, the title more than compensates for the less-than-ideal cover. If the language used in the book had been more accurate and less modern ("bitchy" and "shut up"? Really?), Gilt could very well have been a 4.5 or a 5 for me, so much so was my love for the majority of this novel.

With just the right touches of drama, romance, and betrayal set amid a glittering Court of jewels and lies, Gilt is sure to find a wide audience. Though it may not be the most high-brow of historical/Tudor fiction, it is obvious that the author has done credible research and knows her source material quite well. Outside of the dialogue and vocabulary misused, there is little to complain about and a lot to enjoy. I can't wait for more from this author and this series.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,376 reviews929 followers
November 15, 2015
"You still remember that?" she said. "How we used to play that we were at court?"
"Used to?" I said. "We never stopped."
The game had just changed - from little girls playing princesses to a more grown-up and complicated hierarchy of status and favor.

I am far from a professional when it comes to history but I would consider myself a huge fan of the Tudor era. I've read up on the era enough to know the majority of what occurred but possibly not enough to point out historical inaccuracies when I read a story like Gilt. Based on what I do know; however, it is important to me that these stories maintain as much of the true to life story as possible. That said, I feel that the author did an outstanding job of the story of Catherine 'Cat' Howard and how she became the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Was it completely accurate? No. But it was damn fun. I've read stories about Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Anne of Cleves, so it was interesting to finally read a story on Catherine Howard.

The story is told from the POV of Kitty Tylney, Cat's best friend, who is sent to court in order to stay close to Catherine and to keep a close eye on her at court. The two grew up together and were wild; always having fun of some sort. Midnight parties. Sharing their bed with boys. Cat was the Queen of Misrule over all the girls living in the house and had no idea that someday she would be a true Queen. Queen of England.

Cat was quite the stuck-up brat and I know for a fact I would not have enjoyed it as much if I had to listen to a story told through her eyes. Kitty was an extremely realistic character that I loved for her strength and determination. Life at court was as can be expected with the lies, the cheating, the double-crossing, and all the disloyalty anyone could ask for. I was hooked from page one.

I'm a huge historical fiction fan; however, I have had a difficult time finding good YA historical fiction that I truly enjoy. I'm happy to say that this one has an official spot at the very top of that list. Am quite excited to see how the author continues this series!
Profile Image for Mimi.
265 reviews358 followers
June 7, 2012
I loooooooooooooooooove that the two girls' names are Cat and Kitty! I wish my name was as awesome as theirs :') But even though mine isn't as cute, I'm really enjoying this book so far! ♥

EDIT: And DONE. I actually really enjoyed this book! There are a few things I had problems with -- like a lot of Cat and Kitty's decisions -- but there are a lot of things I liked too. One being the writing, which was so beautiful! Gilt may be more of a 3.5 read for me, but I will definitely be reading all of Katherine Longshore's other books! :)

Maybe a full review to come!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
584 reviews148 followers
April 8, 2012
Gilt, the debut novel by author Katherine Longshore, tells the story the rise and fall of Catherine "Cat" Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, from the point of view of her friend, Kitty Tylney. Kitty was a real person who grew up with Cat and accompanied her to court when she became queen, but not much is known about her, so the author imagines what her life might have been like. The two girls were raised together from the age of six in the household of the Duchess of Norfolk. Cat was always the beautiful, popular one, who ruled over all the girls in the household. Kitty was pretty much dependent on Cat and very passive, which was frustrating to read at times. I hated seeing Cat use her and wanted to yell at her to grow a backbone.

Cat, who had always loved attention and beautiful gowns and jewels, and wanted to marry a rich man who could give her everything she wanted, is thrilled to catch the attention of King Henry VIII, who soon marries her. But being Queen is not all that Cat hoped it would be. She's stuck with an old, overweight, smelly husband. Kitty can only watch as Cat destroys her life, and risks the lives of everyone in her household, by having an affair. Meanwhile, Kitty herself is in love with a man she isn't sure will ever love her back, while Cat tries to push her towards an affair with a man who is attractive but whom Kitty doesn't love. Cat was quite cruel to Kitty about this, and it was again hard to read. The rather one-sided friendship between Kitty and Cat is quite similar to the popular girls in high school today, who often use the less popular girls who are desperate to be friends with them. Cat's cruel personality and thoughtless actions made it extremely difficult to feel any sympathy for her, even thought she had been pushed into an unfair situation by her family and never should have been expected to marry a man so much older than her, who had her cousin Anne Boleyn, one of his previous wives, executed. Cat willfully made one bad choice after another without considering the consequences her actions could have, not just for herself but for others. Ultimately, I liked Kitty, I just wish she had taken charge of her own life much sooner and not allowed Cat to use her so much.

Despite my frustration with Cat's character (which may have been intended by the author) and the fact that some of the word choices in the dialogue were extremely modern, overall I thought Gilt was a solid debut novel and I would definitely read more by Katherine Longshore. I believe she is planning to continue this series with novels about other characters at the Tudor court and I definitely plan to try them. I think other readers who like me are fascinated by anything set in the Tudor era would enjoy this book, and because there's a lot of parallels to contemporary society in the story, readers who don't normally read a lot of historical fiction might enjoy the book as well.
Profile Image for Liviania.
957 reviews64 followers
June 13, 2012
It's no secret that I'm not a historical fiction fan. I don't know why, but it's never been my first choice of genre. I still have a soft spot for the Tudors. It might be due to Carolyn Meyer and her Young Royals series. Or it could be because Hampton Court is ridiculously beautiful. If you're ever in London and have a spare day, be sure to make a trip to Hampton Court. It's not too far (you can take the tube) and it's an incredible experience.

GILT begins far away from court, where Kitty Tylney and her best friend Cat Howard are mere ladies-in-waiting to Cat's step-grandmother. Cat is ambitious however, believing herself to be the true Howard in the household. She's not content to dally with Francis Dereham and be the most important girl in the middle of nowhere forever. Then she gets her chance to go to court.

Anyone who knows a little about English history knows how the story ends. Henry VIII didn't have the best track record with his wives, but there are two who stand out for being more unfortunate than the others. But Katherine Longshore does a wonderful job of making you care about the characters before they reach their inevitable conclusion. (There are some wonderful villains too.)

Kitty, unlike Cat, is happy where she is. She may not have much, aside from a flirtation with the Duke of Norfolk's steward William. But she likes most of the other girls and doesn't terribly mind her lot in life. Unfortunately, she's extremely loyal to Cat. Her loyalty is both admirable and foolhardy. Cat takes full advantage of Kitty, and Kitty knows it. But she still stands by her friend.

I think that may be why I found GILT so compelling. At its heart it is the story of a female friendship, one that you would risk your life for.

GILT is perfect for fans of Carolyn Meyer and Karen Cushman. It will also appeal to fans of The Tudors television show.
Profile Image for Katy.
611 reviews332 followers
May 12, 2012
This book really dragged, and when it didn't bore me, it made me angry. I'm sorry, but I just don't think this book was for me.

One of the reasons I was so intrigued with the book summary was because I thought I would be reading some sort of fictionalized romance with King Henry. But he only appears a few times in the book, and the main story concerning Cat was about her selfish ambition and scandals.

And Kitty. I know she's supposed to be the innocent wallflower, but I can't get over how mad she made me throughout the book. When it comes to Cat, when it comes to William, when it comes to Edmund, when it comes to everything else. I know that Longshore wants us to feel that anger, Kitty is supposedly a stronger person at the end, but I didn't feel that determination as early or as strong as I was hoping for at the end. Compared to Cat, the person she was at the end still paled considerably.

The book wasn't bad, and I think those interested in these types of historical fiction could, really like it. It just wasn't what I was hoping for or expecting, so for me, it was just okay.
Profile Image for Susan.
Author 23 books966 followers
May 19, 2012
This YA novel is narrated in a very modern voice by Katherine ("Kitty") Tylney, best friend of Katherine Howard (at least so far as the self-centered and selfish Katherine Howard can be said to have a best friend).

I found that this novel worked better at the beginning and the end. There's a rather tedious stretch during the middle where Kitty is torn between two fictional male characters, one of whom is so unappealing that we simply can't believe that he would have any attraction for Kitty. I could have also done without the character of Kitty's intended husband, who during his brief appearance in the novel embodies the cliche of the crude, unattractive, and aging brute to whom the fair young heroine will be "sold into marriage." Most of the adult courtiers were broadly drawn, though Jane Boleyn had more nuances than is common in novels about Katherine Howard.

I did enjoy the author's writing style (although some of the girls' Americanisms were jarring even to an American), and I liked the interplay among Kitty and the other young women in the queen's circle.
Profile Image for Caroline.
420 reviews57 followers
October 2, 2013

Do not read Gilt expecting some great, literary historical fiction. (Say, Wolf Hall.) Don't expect it to be Gossip Girl either. The book sits somewhere in between, the foam atop a latte.

I should also add that I know a good deal about the Tudor era, though Catherine Howard isn't my favorite of the wives. Though I'm not a stickler for accuracy, I do like a certain amount of respect for the figures and their times, though each circumstance is different. I did not mind the inaccuracies in Gilt. For that matter, I could tell that Longshore had done her research; she just chose to abandon it when fiction required. Kudos to her for explaining all in an author's note, something I like to see from all historical fiction novelists.

Now. On to the book.

Gilt is, without a doubt, a page-turner. I was hooked fairly early on. Longshore's writing was easy and breezy (beautiful, CoverGirl) and was neither stupid nor purple enough to bother me. I did have an issue with words like "bitchy" and phrases like "having sex" popping up here and there... Because honestly, it isn't that hard to fake old-sounding dialogue. At the same time, I let it go because it's not like I was expecting Shakespeare out of this one.

Longshore manages to translate a very complicated story into YA fairly easily--which is a feat in itself. And, bad dialogue aside, she doesn't throw all subtleties out the window. There's an interesting undercurrent to our "heroine" Kitty's relationship with Catherine Howard. She's single-white-female-ing her without knowing it, a woman trapped in a girl's body as she's ignored by the courtiers who fawn over her friend. I also enjoyed the shifting perspective on figures like Henry VIII (whose presence is refreshingly light) and Jane Boleyn. They're neither wholly bad nor wholly good. One minute Kitty pities the king--the next she remembers how he callously cast aside wife after wife.

You also (spoiler alert? But it's history!) get a real sense of dread as the novel moves on. I knew what was going to happen--but Longshore managed to execute the weird balancing act of Catherine Howard's final days. She, like Anne Boleyn, fell so quickly. One minute she was the queen, the next minute she was Mistress Howard. And yes, Longshore does the famous "Catherine Howard's practice" scene of legend justice, despite the little inaccuracies that facilitated it.

I'm not sure how Gilt turned out to be so fun despite the fact that it covered such a dark moment in Tudor history. And really, it was scandal-lite compared to what could have been. As is necessary for YA, Longshore had to tone down some of the more graphic content, which is always a little disappointing.

Unfortunately, the novel's main flaws lie in characterization. Thomas Culpepper is a complete villain--and trust me, he was an ASSHOLE in real life, too. But the thing is that Kitty was too aware. The thing about Culpepper was that he charmed everyone, including Henry VIII. You're trying to tell me that this naive teenage girl got wise? I'm not buying it.

I also didn't understand the author's need to make Catherine Howard a complete bitch. I'm sure she was spoiled and grasping. However, the terrible creature we see in Gilt she was not. The girl was probably of a lower intelligence; she probably took the chance to elevate her station and paid for it. She was definitely a tragic figure. I got the sense that Longshore made Cat look bad just to make Kitty look better--and I didn't appreciate that. This girl was stupid--but she was, above all, a victim. She was used for sex and as a womb by a disturbing old man; she fell in love or lust with a manipulative courtier (and yes, judging from her rather pitiful letters, the real CH did think she loved Culpepper, and seemed as blissfully in denial of his past as everyone else who knew him); and she died for making a mistake that many young women, and certainly many uneducated teenage girls, make. The more I think about Longshore's portrayal of Catherine (or "Cat" as she is called here, which makes little sense as many refer to her as Kitty Howard; the girls' nicknames could have been switched) the more perturbed I become.

On that note, Kitty was blander than she needed to be. Too pure for my tastes. I wish we'd seen more of the dark side I sensed within her. And for God's sake--if she didn't have one of the blandest, most boring love interests I've ever seen! (Give me the dark and lurky and ambiguously evil guy any day.)

Again: don't expect brilliance out of Gilt. But it's super fun, not overly offensive, and I blazed straight through it.

The Cover: Meh. There's nothing to it. It is pretty, isn't it? I wish we'd seen more of the sex that this cover implies. 2/5.
Profile Image for Andye.Reads.
857 reviews449 followers
April 18, 2012



In the court of King Henry VIII,

nothing is free-

and LOVE comes at the highest price of all.

I was told that this book was sad, as soon as I started it! Dang. I do not like sad books. I read to escape out of the norm, and sad is not a place I want to visit voluntarily. Gilt was very interesting. I had a lot of emotion while reading this book, and sad was just the tip of the iceberg. I feel like there were two main characters in Gilt; Kitty & Cat. To really understand this book, I must tell you a little about these two...

"Kitty" Katherine Tylney

Kitty was very sweet, soft, sensitive, easy going, compliant, weak, passive, obedient, submissive... Oh boy, I could really keep going on and on. Kitty's one goal in life was to please Cat, and she was very good at meeting that goal. Whatever Cat wanted. Whatever Cat desired. Whatever Cat whined for. Whatever Cat screamed about... Kitty made sure to make it happen. Even if that meant Kitty would get into trouble, or feel awful for it later. Kitty was so used to being manipulated by Cat, she didn't even recognize it when Cat threw a fit and got her way. Kitty would make so many excuses for Cat, she herself started to believe them.

Reading this book was hard, reading Kitty being so used by Cat. But at some point, Kitty was a big girl, she needed to take up for herself. Cat and Kitty had practically been sisters since the age of six years old. Cat always had the upper hand. Cat always told Kitty how to think, how to feel. Kitty was very tall, plain and not very pretty. Kitty had a brain, she was very smart and loyal. She could definitely keep a secret, and you could not find a better friend to stick by your side.

"CAT" Catherine Howard

CAT = SPOLIED. ROTTEN. BRAT. I wanted to punch Cat in the first chapter. Yes she was gorgeous. Yes she was sensual, enticing, and awesome at everything. But Cat was mean, selfish, demanding, and willing to throw anyone under the bus as soon as she thought it would help her in some way. I hated Cat with a passion. I really don't think any character has gotten under my skin so much as Cat. I would think about her at the grocery store, cooking dinner, taking a shower. Cat was the worst person ever! Even worse than Voldemort, because Cat had friends, who loved her very much, like Kitty. Cat would used all of her friends to do her dirty work, then just toss them aside as she saw fit. She would call them names, mock them, anything to make everyone around her feel ugly and dumb. Cat was all about advancing to the King's Court, and she would do anything to become Queen.


This book was about King Henry VIII choosing Cat to become his wife. Cat then chooses Kitty, Alice and Joan to accompany her at court to wait on her. Yes this book was sad, but most of all it was frustrating. I hated Cat for the way she treated her friends. I wanted to put this book down several times, just because it was so very slow. It might not be so slow to someone who loves historical fiction, I however like more action, adventure and romance. The reason why I kept picking this book up, is because the author did such a fantastic job with the characters. Katherine Longshore wrote this book beautifully. Seriously, the characters (especially Cat) got under my skin. This might be the first book that has made me think about how I treat others. The relationships I have with my friends. Sometimes it's hard for me to stand up for myself, I feel like Kitty at times. I see how pathetic that is now. I think everyone has some type of Cat in their life! I really wanted to know what happened between Kitty & Cat, so I stuck with it, I'm glad I did. The author did her job very well!

This book will be a great Tudor style book that will be loved by many. And Yes, you will want to take an ax and chop off Cat's head before you can sing...

I'm Henry the 8th I am


Violence: EXTREME (rape mentioned)
Profanity: Mild
Other: Moderate

For full content info go to Parental Book Reviews.
Profile Image for Laurel Bradshaw.
712 reviews46 followers
November 16, 2014
Setting: England, London, Greenwich Palace
Time: 1539-1542

Main characters: Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, Katherine (Kitty) Tylney, Jane Boleyn - Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

First paragraph: "You're not going to steal anything." I left the question--Are you?--off the end of the sentence. But Cat heard it anyway.

Favorite lines: "We spent yet another rainy day endlessly sewing. I wondered at all the shirts we sewed. For the poor. For Cat's husband. How many shirts did he need? Or was it like the fairy tales, and the things unsewed themselves every night? Was she forever sewing the same shirt, like Sisyphus pushing the rock up a mountain for all eternity?" p. 279

I was pleasantly surprised by this first book in the Gilt Novels series. Told from the point of view of a lady in waiting to Catherine Howard, the 5th wife of Henry VIII. Although Catherine is vain, selfish, spoiled, ambitious and reckless, Kitty is loyal to her friend. At first we see the fun-loving (but reckless) side of Catherine Howard. This can be forgiven while she is a "nobody" in the employ of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. But once she has caught the eye of Henry VIII and become the Queen of England, her recklessness puts the lives of those around her at risk. You won't lose much sleep over the eventual fate of Cat, but will Kitty survive and learn to stand on her own two feet? Kitty is based on a real person, but not much is known about her. Ms. Turner has given her a bit of a love interest. The ending is bittersweet - we don't know whether or not there will be a happily ever after for her. The historical setting of the book seems well researched, but the use of contemporary teenage attitudes and mannerisms makes it clear the series is aimed at contempory teens. That might be off-putting for adults used to more "authentic" historical fiction, but it wasn't as off-putting as I had thought it might be from the description of this series as "Gossip Girl meets the Tudor Court."

The books in this series are not chronological and stand alone. They can be read in any order.

Description: 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.

About the author: Katherine Longshore grew up on the northern California coast. At university, she created her own major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications, planning to travel and write. Forever. Four years, six continents and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years and discovered history. She now lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshiping dog.

The Gilt Novels series info:
#1 Gilt
#2 Tarnish
#3 Brazen
#4 Courted
Profile Image for Emily.
352 reviews133 followers
June 29, 2012
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

It's really hard to write a historical fiction book and make it thrilling, interesting, and un-put-down-able, because, well, it's history. No one wants to read about it. But this book managed to incorporate all those things, and much more.

I've always been interested in this era, Queen Elizabeth, Bloody Mary, and King Henry VIII's many wives, and, of all his six wives, Catherine Howard is the one I knew least about. I didn't even know this book was about Catherine Howard until I got farther in and figured it out. I learned so much from this book that I never knew before. It was exciting, fast-paced, and I couldn't put it down. I also liked the point of view it was written from. I think that if it had been written from Catherine's point of view it wouldn't have been as expressive and interesting, but by writing it from Kitty's point of view, (she's Catherine's best friend) it made it much more interesting because it focused on both Kitty and Cat. The writing was very good, the idea was very good, and the story line was very good. This book is historical fiction at its best.

This book has a very interesting cast, mostly because the characters featured actually lived. I'm sure their personalities weren't the same in real life as portrayed in this book, but it still made for good entertainment.
I'll start off with the supporting cast, which, in my opinion, really helped this book to become how good it is. There's Joan and Alice. Each played a special part in this book that allowed Longshore to manipulate the plot and make it more exciting. Loved them all.
And then there's Cat. I didn't really like her. yes, I know the personality Longshore assigned to her might not have been her personality in real life, but I'm sure the odds are pretty good it was. She was a brat, stupid, and extremely selfish. I felt so bad for Kitty because Cat treated her horribly and no one should do that.
On the complete other hand, I really liked Kitty. She was strong, interesting, and a great second character.

It's been a long time since I've read a really good historical fiction book (I think the last one was The Other Boleyn Girl , by Philippa Gregory, and it was amazing) and I'm so glad I found this one because it was a huge breath of fresh air.
484 reviews30 followers
April 15, 2012
Debut author Katherine Longshore chronicles the often-discussed rise and fall of Catherine Howard, the doomed fifth wife of King Henry VIII, in her new YA historical novel, Gilt. Cat Howard's story is told through the eyes of close friend Kitty Tylney, a fellow ward of the dowager duchess. As the pair grow up together at Lambeth, Kitty is privy to all of Cat's darkest secrets -secrets that could undo her at court. When Cat is sent to court as a lady-in-waiting to Henry's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, Kitty also travels to court, where she is thrown into the wild world of intrigue and romance that pervade the court.

I really wanted to like this book. I mean, really, what's not to like about a good Tudor-era novel? But, maybe by now I've read too many because Gilt just felt stale. The stories of Henry VIII's wives, including the promiscuous Cat Howard, have been throughly explored in modern literature and TV, and Gilt casts no addition light on Cat's story. I honestly felt like I was reading something of an abridged version of Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance. I knew everything about this story from the beginning, and the added plot line of Kitty Tylney wasn't enough to infuse this book with enough originality to keep it interesting. This was simply too painfully predictable to enjoy.

I was also somewhat shocked that Gilt is being passed off as a YA novel. First, the cover implies something very sexual and looks like it works better on the cover of an adult romance novel. The inside is not much different. There is abundant discussion of adult situations, sex and courtly lust. Longshore did not seem to censor this at all in Gilt -it is essentially an adult historical novel set in the Tudor period.

Honestly, I was disappointed with this book. Nothing original, nothing engaging and, to top it off, not really YA. I'd pass on this one.
Profile Image for Hayley G.
149 reviews13 followers
April 18, 2012
Henry VIII meets Pretty Little Liars!

I loved this book, and I really didn't expect to. I'm not one for Court intrigue, but I couldn't stop reading GILT.

This book will definitely appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and Gobersen's Luxe series. Longshire deals well with creating an environment in which the reader truly feels like they're part of Henry VIII's court, while using modern-day-dialogue- I really appreciated this.

Kitty is an underdog you'll be rooting for through the entire book. She's loyal and selfless to the end- literally. She also witnesses many horrific things in and out of court and as such must make some hard choices, some I didn't agree with but I can understand the merit and motivation behind them.
I wouldn't classify this book as having a love triangle, because I only felt that one man truly cared for Kitty- the real Kitty- TEAM WILLIAM!!! haha I have to pick a team every time :).

One thing I find troubling about this book, the ending- it didn't give me closure, especially with Kitty's romantic prospects. It's my understanding that this is the first book in a trilogy, but the troubling part is that each book will feature a different female protagonist, I really don't think that Kitty's story is complete and would love to see another story told from her perspective. If I'm wrong please let me know in the comments- I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I would recommend this read to those who enjoy stories from Diana Gabaldon but are in the mood for a good YA read!

Happy Reading!!!
Profile Image for Sarvenaz Tash.
Author 11 books318 followers
April 11, 2012
I think it's the mark of a truly amazing author who can make her passion for the subject matter come alive for a reader -- any reader -- whether they happen to share that passion or not.

Let me explain: I have to admit that, although I'm a huge anglophile, I haven't taken much more than a passing interest in British history, especially before the Regency era. I know a bit about Henry VIII and his wives, and I find it intriguing, but I wouldn't say I've gone out of my way to learn more.

Katherine Longshore clearly knows a lot about the Tudors, which is very cool in and of itself. But what's truly remarkable is how she makes the king's court come completely alive in this book. Everything from the sumptuous clothes to the sinister inner workings to the complex and timeless human emotions that drove it all. I was so invested in this story and its main character, that I found myself rather glad that I didn't know the actual history very well -- because I very much wanted Longshore to tell it to me.

And she did. In an ingenious and thoroughly entertaining way. I love, love, loved this lush and thrilling book.

Profile Image for Kathy Coe.
206 reviews107 followers
January 4, 2012
**Full review to come closer to the date of publication**

The relationship between Catherine Howard and Kitty Tylney will resonate with many girls/women. I loved the duality between the grandeur and danger of King Henry's Tudor court.

Katherine Longshore's Catherine Howard is calculating, manipulative, and paints a much more realistic portrait of the young woman who managed to become Queen.

I am looking forward to writing, and post my full review.
Profile Image for Roos.
602 reviews106 followers
June 2, 2020
In the beginning I wasn't sure if I was going to like this, but in the end I loved it. It gave a totaly different view on Katherine Howard. Not a naive, little girl, but a manipulative woman and that was great! Highly recommend this.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,280 reviews1,654 followers
October 26, 2020
Originally posted here.

This review begins with a confession. Intrigued? Here we go. Confession #1: I cheated on King Henry. Oh wait, that wasn't me! That was Catherine (like that narrows it down). Oops! I got ahead of myself. Actually, my confession is that, much as I love reading historical fiction, I really am not a huge fan of reading about the Tudors. They're a completely fascinating (i.e. batshit insane) family, especially during Henry VIII's reign. However, I have been burned by books and movies about these years before. I know everyone else loved The Other Boleyn Girl but both the book and the film were big fat DNFs for me. Because of this, I enter every Tudors thing with a larger than usual (and usual is prodigious) amount of skepticism. Well, this one I loved.

One thing that often frustrates me about the Tudors, even the show (which I largely enjoyed) is the romanticizing of Henry. Partly, this is because he tends to be younger in much of the fiction, a lot of which focuses on Anne Boleyn. I'm not saying Henry doesn't come off as a womanizing bastard (he does), but he also generally seems like he gets so much play because he's attractive and charismatic. Again, I think that was fairly true when he was young, although I definitely think much of his appeal had to do with the crown even then. However, as he got older, he got fat and had serious health issues. I love Katherine Longshore for displaying Henry as what he really was.

I totally get why shows make Henry more attractive (who wants to watch some guy who looks like that?), but that doesn't make it accurate, and there's less of a reason for it in fiction. That seems unfair to say, but oh well. The same is true of Catherine, who is portrayed as a completely fetching blonde in the show, but pictures reveal her to be somewhat plain. In Gilt, Cat is described not as beautiful, but as vivacious and so charming no one can tell that she's not gorgeous.

What really drew me into Gilt, though, is Kitty. I identified so much with Kitty and her desperation. She has nobody and she wants so badly to believe that she has a real friend in Cat. She is loyal to a fault (a big one). For the most part, I really am not like Kitty, but I liked Kitty so much, and I just kept hoping she would make the right decisions such as avoiding ruinous people.

There are so many right bastards (both literally and figuratively I'm sure) walking around Henry's court. Women's options were so incredibly limited. Of course, there were also the freedoms that they had. I cannot believe how easy it was for women to be, well, easy. Even in a dormitory packed full of beds, with more than one girl per bed no less, girls managed to carry out affairs; there's nothing awkward about that. Don't even get me started on the rage I feel about how men could rape any woman they wanted to and claim that she wanted it, so obviously it's her fault. Instead, I will let Kitty send that message in my favorite quote. I love her when she has a backbone.

Gilt is truly wonderful. I laughed, I was grossed out, I was enraged and I nearly cried. Gilt really is a lot like a more historically accurate, YA version of The Tudors. There's sex, backstabbing and dirty jokes galore. I loved every single minute of it. If you enjoy reading all of those things, get thee to a bookstore anon!
Profile Image for usagi ☆ミ.
1,197 reviews279 followers
April 21, 2012
4.5/5 stars!

An absolutely gorgeous debut. This one kind of jumped me from behind - at first I thought it was going to be like so many of the historical YA books that left me feeling pretty uninspired, but the magic that Longshore weaves with her surprisingly masterful use of sensory language and imagery just kind of knocked me on my ass and left me begging for more. While there was a chapter or two that really dragged, "Gilt", for the most part, is a languid yet tense look at the real-life game of thrones that was the court of Henry VIII and will definitely draw teens in, whether they like it or not.

Beginning with Kitty's experience of young Cat's Court of Misrule within the house of the Duchess of Norfolk, Longshore really drew me in with the sensory experience of what a Tudor-ruled England looked, smelled, and felt like. You really experience everything in a very visceral way, and I literally read this one in about two sittings - both within one day. I couldn't stop turning the pages. Even though we all know the fate of the real-life Catherine Howard, seeing it from the age that we know Cat was when she became Henry's wife was startling, wonderful, and awful as we watch the wolves starting to circle and history is made.

There's been the frequent observation in other reviews of this book that some of the characters fell flat, but I didn't see that at all. Yes, some of them could have been rounded out more than others, but as Longshore is taking from history and did her research, we frankly don't know a lot about some of the characters that were featured in the book in real life, and there wasn't a lot to draw on. However, I respect her immensely for her afterword talking about her writing and research process for "Gilt", and after reading the abortion of a book that was "Spirit's Princess", it was just the balm I needed to soothe my jangled academic nerves. Longshore admitting where she took liberties was refreshing and really made me respect her. Yes, Kitty could have been more dynamic, but in the end, even in real life she wasn't as heavy a hitter as Catherine Howard. Cat's character is so large, both in real life and in the speculative life created within the book kind of blots many of the other characters out. It happens. But the way Longshore crafted the book more than made up for some of the paler characters within it.

I think my favorite part of the book itself was after Cat gets to court, and we see the aforementioned real life game of thrones that was going on with all of the political families/factions of Tudor England at the time - the Howards, the Tudors, and the other families all fighting for supremacy within the thinly veiled fraud that was courtly life. It was addicting to read, and I connected with it far easier than I did with Philippa Gregory's same content concerning the Tudor court.

Final verdict? If you're looking for a really well-written historical fiction piece, "Gilt" has to be your choice. It's on my best of 2012 list so far, and I can't wait until the next book comes out. "Gilt" is out through Viking Juvenile/Penguin Teen May 15, 2012 in North America, so be sure to check it out then. This is yet another 2012 debut that you just can't miss.

(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)
Profile Image for Ceitidh.
300 reviews130 followers
May 15, 2012
For more of my reviews visit my blog at Dazzling Reads

4.5 stars ^.^

An Impressive Historical Debut Novel!

Since I turned to the first page of Gilt, I found myself immediately immersed with a story that provides so much more than just enjoyment. In fact, this story is full of complex moral choices, and best of all, History. Now, how could I not be absolutely fascinated by British history after reading Gilt? Longshore perfectly illustrates the 16th century with jewels, gowns, gossips, castles, liaisons, lies, romance, and of course, the moral and ethics of a time period that is very different from ours, yet not that much.

It is incredible how both, the 16th century and today, are so different yet some things are still exactly the same, such as the means to and end. Knowing the right people, having the right connections, etc. It is inevitable not to see the connections to what still happens today in politics, business, etc. In the other hand, the moral and ethical differences between the 16th century and today are shocking and Longshore does a flawlessly job portraying a wicked and unhealthy friendship that, thanks to the historical, moral and ethical background the author provides, can easily be understood.

There are so many things to love about Gilt but personally, I love the fact that this book provides historical facts in an all-consuming way. Yes! it is that intriguing! I loved that the story is told from Kitty's (Katherine Kylney) point of view. Kitty narrates the story of how her best friend Cat (Katherine Howard) claws her way up to the court of Henry VIII, who later becomes the king's wife herself. I found absolutely engrossing how Longshore decided to tell this story. From the moment Kitty and Cat where at the duchess house until the the tragic culmination of the story (which I will not give away even though it is written in all history books) that yet left me with a spark of hope for the main character. In addition, there is a boy who adds the swoon-worthy romantic dose to Kitty's story. William... Oh William, I haven't read about such pure and innocent love in a very long time. Longshore, among all the lies and atrocities that happened in the court of Henry VIII, manages to insert the perfect amount of sweetness that wonderfully equilibrates the story.

Gilt by Katherine Longshore is one of the YA historical novels I will highly recommend from this moment on. Romance, lies, materialism, identity, history, etc. Many topics and themes can be found in this highly impressive debut novel that, I am sure, will hook readers from the very first to the last page. I am eager to read Katherine Longshore's future historical novels!
Profile Image for Julie .
874 reviews273 followers
July 30, 2016
Gilt is unlike any Tudor book I've ever read and as far as YA's concerned, I've read a lot.

First off, it's told from a different perspective. A lot of Tudor books I've read were told by one of the queen's or a relative of one. Gilt is told from the perspective of one of Catherine Howard's closest friends. I loved having this different perspective. When it comes to Catherine Howard, I've only read a couple books and in both, she was telling her own story and she came off as horribly misunderstood and lonely. Reading about it from her best friend's perspective cast Catherine in a very different light. Kitty was a fantastic narrator.

Second, Kitty had her own romances. Not a love triangle, really, but there was one main love interest and one secondary love interest and it's hard to explain without spoiling, but it's different and I liked it. I learned a lot about Kitty and saw a lot of her character development through those relationships.

Now, Katherine Longshore knows how to write a book. The romantic tension was incredible. Remember, this is a time when people weren't even allowed to kiss before marrying and love was a rarity. So certain characters could just be standing in the same room together and I'd be like "You'll make the cutest babies because you ARE MEANT TO BE." So, yeah. Tension galore.

Katherine also captured the setting and the characters so wonderfully. The setting was really well described, from the gardens, to the hallways of the castles. Since it's historical fiction, a lot of the characters were real and Katherine elaborated on what we know about them or came up with personalities for them and in the case of people I was familiar with, they were a lot like what I expected they would be. And as I mentioned, our main character does some fantastic developing and growth.

Gilt isn't a short book, and I read it very quickly. I read about half in a sitting. Katherine Longshore's writing is beautiful, descriptive, and addicting. I'm pretty sure all of her books are going to be insta-buys for me.

Truly, Gilt is an incredible read. The setting is lush, the characters are wonderful and diverse, the narrator is totally different from any Tudor book I've read, and the writing is addicting. Y'all seriously need to pick up this book.
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