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Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift & GIVEAWAY

The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift
Paperback, 480 pages
St. Martin’s Griffin
November 27, 2012
★★★★ ½☆
goodreads button

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.

You can read a sample of the novel here.

You can also watch a book trailer below:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:
 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Deborah Swift:

the lady's slipper_thumb
The Lady’s Slipper

a divided inheritance_thumb
A Divided Inheritance
[My Review]

02_Pleasing Mr. Pepys_Cover[3]
Pleasing Mr. Pepys
[My Review]

shadow on the highway_thumb
Shadow on the Highway (Highway Trilogy #1)
[My Review]

spirit of the highway_thumb
Spirit of the Highway (Highway Trilogy #2)
[My Review]

lady of the highway_thumb
Lady of the Highway (Highway Trilogy #3)

Find Deborah Swift: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog

 Follow the Tour!

Today was the kick-off day for the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for The Gilded Lily. You can follow the rest of the tour either at the HFVBT site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #GildedLilyVirtualTour.


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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Thank you Heather for your nice reviews. Honestly, I never read any books of Deborah Swift, but, I would enjoy winning her book "Gilded Lily". I love historical fiction. Merci

  2. I have read so many reviews of this and yours just adds to my desire to read the book. Thanks!

  3. This one sounds so good. I love Deborah Swift and I can't wait to read this one as well. Great review.


  4. I have long ago figured out that we close to the same taste in books so I am sure I will love this book too, I can't wait to read it. Thank you for the chance to win it.

  5. Thank you for the chance to win The Gilded Lily! I just saw The Lady's Slipper at the library. I'll have to pick it up next time I go :)


  6. I love reading your reviews! They give me great ideas on what books to add to my TBR list! Thank you for the giveaway!

  7. Not many books are set in the Restoration period, not that I know of anyway, and this one sounds like a particularly interesting read. Thanks for offering me a chance to win.

  8. The plot sounds like it could be modern, in a historical wrapper. I'd love to read this. Thanks for the giveaway.

  9. I think that I now want to read this book!! I think it is important as a reader to experience the seedier part of a historical era...thank you

  10. This sounds like a great read, and thanks for the opportunity, Deborah!

  11. I've always had a soft spot for historical fiction.. it it's too good to let go and this one looks like a beauty! Super review and thanks for the giveaway.

  12. I adore the setting and time period of London
    in the 1660's...Also, this author is new to me
    and her writing sounds exquisite!
    Many thanks, Cindi

  13. This is definitely in my TBR pile. Thanks!

  14. Perfect winter reading - thanks for the giveaway!


  15. I do enjoy historical fiction that has me experiencing what the average person's life is like.


Thanks for leaving your comments! I love reading them and try to reply to all!