Synopsis: 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.
My Thoughts: The Gilded Lily is a companion novel to Ms. Swift's first novel, The Lady's Slipper. It features sisters, Ella and Sadie, as they escape their old lives in the hopes of finding prosperity in London. The story is very well-written and Ms. Swift does an excellent job of describing the darker side of London in 1660. You can almost feel the despair in the poverty stricken areas where Sadie and Ella wre forced to live.
I have to say it, I hated Ella. I didn't like Ella in The Lady's Slipper and she did nothing to redeem herself in this book (until the very end). She was just not a very likable character. She was selfish and self-centered and would do anything to get what she wanted no matter who she hurt. I couldn't believe that she locked her sister in their 'apartment' so she wouldn't go out. In stark contrast, was her sister Sadie who you couldn't help but like. She seemed very sweet, albeit naive, and she truly loved her sister. No matter how hateful Ella was towards her, she always forgave her; she really just wanted her sister to love her. I liked that Sadie finally found her inner-strength towards the end of the book. It made me like her even more. Every story has to have a villain and Jay was the perfect one. He was so deceptively smooth and could you make you think he was a good person while he robbed you blind. He was very hard to read in the beginning but as the story progress it became easier to see just how evil he was.
While I didn't like the main character of the story, overall, I did enjoy the story. There was a lot of intrigue with Jay and his exploits and Ella and Sadie running from Mr. Ibbetson that the story moved really quickly and made me want to find out what would happen next. The end of the story left me with a lot of questions so I am hopeful that Ms. Swift will write another book that continues the story of Ella and Sadie. 3 1/2 stars.
About the Author:
Deborah Swift, a set and costume designer for the BBC, lives in Windermere, England. The Lady's Slipper, shortlisted for The Impress Novelists Prize in 2007, was inspired by her own discovery of the rare orchid during a summer walk. For more information on Deborah Swift and her novels, please visit her website at www.deborahswift.co.uk.
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