First, disclaimer: Katherine and I are friends in real life. Second: even if I weren’t friends with her, I’d be reviewing this book anyway because it totally rocks. Like, stay-up-way-past-bedtime-reading rocks. And I’m not usually drawn to historical fiction.
The set-up: The year is 1539. Kitty Tylney and Catherine (Cat) Howard are best friends…or as close as best friends can be when one is kind of a jerk, like Cat.
Main character’s goals: At first, Kitty just wants to go to Court, and wear fine clothes and be somebody. But then her goals change, and I don’t want to risk spoilers, so I’ll just say maybe these new goals have to do with a dude, and maybe the new goals have to do with Cat’s marriage to the king, and maybe both. Or, you know, neither.
My reaction: The writing is so pretty! When the book comes out and I read it again (because I’ll have my own sparkly copy with its beautiful cover…probably signed by the author, hint, hint) I’m going to do a better job of savoring the beautiful prose. On the first read, savoring was nearly impossible because I just wanted to freaking find out what happened already. It was tense, and dangerous, and sexy, and just all around marvy. If I could write historical fiction (as in, stomach the research involved), I’d want this to be my book. As it is, Katherine enjoys research (see her interview here) so she gets to do it for me.
A second reaction: sometimes in historical fiction, I don’t feel entirely “there” in the setting. But in Gilt, I was there, and I was loving it.
Of interest to writers: When Katherine wrote this book, historical YA was not a big thing at all. In fact, many agents weren’t even interested in it. I keep coming back to the advice she gave in her interview: “Don’t second-guess whether or not your concept will sell. If a story and character come to you, write them down. That passion will come through in your writing…Passion sells. And in the long run, writing what you love is the ultimate reward.”
Bottom line: Beautiful story, believable and compelling characters – it’s a total win. I’m just sorry you have to wait until the May 15th release date to read it!