One thing that often frustrates me about the Tudors, even the show (which I largely enjoyed) is the romanticizing of Henry. Partly, this is because he tends to be younger in much of the fiction, a lot of which focuses on Anne Boleyn. I'm not saying Henry doesn't come off as a womanizing bastard (he does), but he also generally seems like he gets so much play because he's attractive and charismatic. Again, I think that was fairly true when he was young, although I definitely think much of his appeal had to do with the crown even then. However, as he got older, he got fat and had serious health issues. I love Katherine Longshore for displaying Henry as what he really was.
I totally get why shows make Henry more attractive (who wants to watch some guy who looks like that?), but that doesn't make it accurate, and there's less of a reason for it in fiction. That seems unfair to say, but oh well. The same is true of Catherine, who is portrayed as a completely fetching blonde in the show, but pictures reveal her to be somewhat plain. In Gilt, Cat is described not as beautiful, but as vivacious and so charming no one can tell that she's not gorgeous.
What really drew me into Gilt, though, is Kitty. I identified so much with Kitty and her desperation. She has nobody and she wants so badly to believe that she has a real friend in Cat. She is loyal to a fault (a big one). For the most part, I really am not like Kitty, but I liked Kitty so much, and I just kept hoping she would make the right decisions such as avoiding ruinous people.
There are so many right bastards (both literally and figuratively I'm sure) walking around Henry's court. Women's options were so incredibly limited. Of course, there were also the freedoms that they had. I cannot believe how easy it was for women to be, well, easy. Even in a dormitory packed full of beds, with more than one girl per bed no less, girls managed to carry out affairs; there's nothing awkward about that. Don't even get me started on the rage I feel about how men could rape any woman they wanted to and claim that she wanted it, so obviously it's her fault. Instead, I will let Kitty send that message in my favorite quote. I love her when she has a backbone.
Gilt is truly wonderful. I laughed, I was grossed out, I was enraged and I nearly cried. Gilt really is a lot like a more historically accurate, YA version of The Tudors. There's sex, backstabbing and dirty jokes galore. I loved every single minute of it. If you enjoy reading all of those things, get thee to a bookstore anon!