Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kid Konnection: Gilt

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to review a new historical fiction young adult book which also happens to be part of the Class of 2K12.

Summary: 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. -- Viking

Just when I thought I was a little bit tired of historical fiction -- or at least the king and queen variety, I heard about the new young adult novel GILT by Katherine Longshore. I admit that my interest was definitely piqued because GILT sounded like an original approach to a famous story.

GILT tells the story of Kitty Tylney who is best friends with Catherine Howard, one of the women who ends up marrying King Henry VIII. The story follows Kitty and Catherine's friendship as they move from their childhood home to King Henry VIII's court. It's filled with glamor, romance, scandal, and intrigue; and I think it will not only appeal to teen girls, but adult women as well.

Overall, I enjoyed GILT a great deal. I realize I'm not the target audience, but I liked that the book focused on the friendship between Kitty and Catherine rather than the relationship between Catherine and the king. I thought this angle was refreshing and brought some special insight into the character of Catherine. Of course, I also appreciated how the author chose to portray Kitty's character and I thought she was a fabulous narrator.

Needless to say, it's hard not to fall in love with Kitty. She is such a sweet girl and loyal friend, and I thought she was an wonderfully complex character. It's hard enough to be a teen and navigate the world, but for Kitty, it was especially difficult. She was torn with how Catherine treated her, yet she was also loyal to a fault. In addition, she began discovering the opposite sex despite living in Catherine's shadow; and she found herself caught between her true love and a man who seemed to desire her. I thought Ms. Longshore did a great job in bringing Kitty to live and making her a realistic and sympathetic character.

I also enjoyed how the relationship between Kitty and Catherine was portrayed. While I immediately felt an affinity with Kitty, that certainly wasn't the case with Catherine. I had a hard time accepting her "attitude" and how she treated Kitty (as well as her other so-called friends.) What I thought was so special about their relationship, though, is how relevant it still is today. I believe that many teen girls who read this story will relate to Kitty and how she was mistreated by Catherine. In all honestly, I hear similar stories from Booking Daughter almost daily about the "queen bee" behavior at her school.

Another part of GILT that I enjoyed was how the author brought this time period to life. I think one of the reasons that so many women enjoy historical fiction is because of how glamorous that time period seemed. Ms. Longshore definitely described the dresses, the jewels and the opulence beautifully, but she also managed to convey all the cut-throat behavior that was going on in the background. In many ways, GILT read like a true drama. It was filled with lies, betrayals, and adultery; and it was juicy... in a good way.

I think teen girls who tend to appreciate historical fiction will love GILT. It's a nice change from all of the dystopia out there, and it also offers some characters that will resonate with the readers.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel. 

A few months ago, I introduced this new feature on Kid Konnection. For those of you who missed it, here's the scoop:

Throughout 2012, I will be featuring many of the authors from the Class of 2K12. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Class of 2K12, it's a group of middle grade and young adult authors who have books being released some time during 2012. You can learn more about the authors and their books here. (And while you are visiting the blog, make sure you sign up for their mailing list. You are going to want to stay informed because there will be many opportunities to win some fantastic prize packs!)

You might notice that I used the word interview in the previous sentence, and that's because I didn't really interview the authors. Rather, I asked each author to do one simple thing:

Describe your book in 200 characters or less. 

I asked Katherine Longshore author of GILT to describe her book in just a few words; and here's what she had to say:  

When her best friend marries Henry VIII, a previously disregarded maid-in-waiting must learn to walk the fine line between secrets and treason, knowing her life and the Queen's could be threatened by any wrong word spoken (and those left unsaid).

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-worshipping dog.

You can find Ms. Longshore on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I bet this will have a lot of appeal for the target audience. I don't read a lot of historical fiction so this might be my speed.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wait, wait! What do you mean by "nice change from all of the dystopia" - ha ha! Actually, I think I have this one SOMEWHERE in my house, and look forward to reading it if I can find it!

My Kid Konnection today is another book revelant for National Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

Beth F said...

I like a lot of middle grade books but I think I might be getting burned out on the Tudors.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I really liked this book for showing me into Catherine Howard's life. I tend to read more books about Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth I so it as a welcome change and has sparked me to look for more books and perspectives about Cat.