The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift
Paperback, 480 pages
St. Martin’s Griffin
November 27, 2012
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Received from publisher for review as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
“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 London. But London may not be the promised land she expects. Work is hard to find, until Ella takes up with a dashing and dubious gentleman with ties to the London underworld. Meanwhile, her old employer's twin brother is in hot pursuit of the sisters.
Set in a London of atmospheric coffee houses, gilded mansions, and shady pawnshops hidden from rich men's view, Deborah Swift's The Gilded Lily is a dazzling novel of historical adventure.”
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 strongest skill is her ability to create a living, breathing world in which to place her characters. The pages just oozed 17th century London and the reader is instantly transported into the same dark alleys and hard-times that the characters are enduring. I especially enjoyed the fairs on the frozen Thames River. My previous reading experience with this time period has always been within and around the royal court and its entourage and the world Swift creates is almost as far as you can get in the other extreme. We experience poverty, sickness, hunger, freezing temperatures, etc among other travails the characters need to endure. We get the opportunity to peek into several professions of commoners – perruquiers (wig makers), shop attendants, maids, and pawn brokers – not necessarily common places for novel heroines to frequent.
Regarding one of the biggest did-she-or-didn’t-she moments in this novel, we are kept in the dark from about page 4 up until almost the end of the novel. While this would usually be something that frustrates me, the pace of this novel was so rapid that you didn’t even notice that you were suddenly 300 pages in and at that point almost done with the book. The book was narrated intermittently by three different characters and this was executed very well. You were never confused as to who was telling the story or what their unique perspective was.
A quick word about the cover (the US version) – for once I think that the cover artist may have actually read something of the novel because as I read the description of an outfit Ella was wearing I immediately turned over the cover – and there it was! Great job!
I can say that The Gilded Lily has been among my favorite reads this year and will likely end up within my top 10 reads. I anxiously await the time to be able to read The Lady’s Slipper.
Author Deborah Swift also has written The Lady’s Slipper, a companion book to The Gilded Lily. You can visit Swift’s website or blog for additional information about the book. You can read a sample of the novel here.
You can also watch a book trailer below:
I also have the opportunity to offer 1 copy of The Gilded Lily to a lucky entrant. Giveaway is open internationally. The last day to enter the giveaway is December 1st. Complete the rafflecopter below to be entered to win. Good luck!
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Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court