Gilt by Katherine Longshore is the story of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII, from the perspective of Kitty Tylney. Cat and Kitty grew up together, closer than sisters, as poor relations in the house of the Duchess of Norfolk. Unloved and often unsupervised, Cat devises wild schemes and scandalous parties in the maidens' quarters, often presiding as the Queen of Misrule, with Kitty always in her shadow. When Cat is whisked away to court by her ambitious relatives, she catches the eye of the king. Cat promised Kitty and the others that she would try to bring them with her if she gained any influence at court. Now, as the most influential woman in England, Cat brings her old friends to her side -- for the sake of friendship, or the better to keep a lid on her less than virtuous past. It doesn't take a scholar to know that Cat's past will catch up with her . . . but will Kitty share her friend's fate?
This book employs the use of 21st-century
dialogue, with mixed results. Though Tudor English would probably have
turned off many potential readers looking for stories about Mean Girls
in History, the characters seem a little too modern at times. Kitty is
also a mix of historical and modern, as she is submissive and often
servile toward Cat, yet determined to find love and romance on her own.
This probably won't deter most readers -- without the hints of romance
in Kitty's life, the story would be much flatter. Though I had a few
issues with this book, I would still recommend it to teens who enjoy
historical fiction with romance, deceit, and court intrigue.