Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift ~ Review & International Giveaway

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 27th November 2012
Pages: 460
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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:
Impeccably detailed The Gilded Lily drops the reader right in the poverty and squalor of 17th century London. So vivid are the descriptions you can almost smell the stench, see the overwhelming gulf between the rich and dirt poor, experience the bitter cold and terrible hunger. With research and passion Deborah Swift has excelled with conveying time and place. 

The dynamic between sisters Ella & Sadie is pivotal to the story, giving it momentum but honestly my hand was itching to slap Ella for her callous selfishness. The Gilded Lily is short on likeable characters, thankfully Sadie and her 2 friends, Dennis & Corey are endearing characters with heart. Fortunately I didn't have to like the rest of the cast to enjoy the read. 

I loved the 17th century dialect and it was refreshing to take a look at the professions of commoners; perruquiers, (wig makers) pawn brokers, maids and shop assistants and read more about the 'secrets' of womens' beauty during this era, the use of ceruse, white lead face paint or powder. It added a fascinating authenticity to Restoration London without bogging down the story with unnecessary detail. 

At 460 + pages I was pleasantly surprised by the pace. The Gilded Lily is quite a bleak read but the dark ambiance, seedy undercurrent and ever-present danger kept me turning the pages, anxious for the outcome and the redemptive ending contributes some light and goes a little way to restoring faith in humanity. 

Recommend: Absolutely! I'll definitely be reading more from Deborah Swift.

Want to know more about Deborah Swift and her work? Check out her website or follow her on twitter.


Up for grabs 2 copies of the THE GILDED LILY please leave a relevant comment or question for Deborah, she'll be popping in. And don't forget to ensure you're contactable.

1 copy INTERNATIONAL ... woohoo!!

1 copy thanks to Australian publisher Pan Macmillan I'll post to a lucky Australian reader. Please let me know in your comment if you're an Aussie entry. 

Extra Entries: 
+ 2 tweet giveaway and leave a link

Giveaway ends 19th December and winners will be announced on my blog. 
Good luck everyone!

Thanks to Deborah and Amy of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my copy of The Gilded Lily.


  1. I loved Deborah Swift's other book 'The Lady's Slipper' and I cannot wait to read this one. Of course my local library isn't getting this or hasn't got it yet and god only knows when that will be if ever. I would love to win this so I could read it. Great review.


  2. I have it :D And I really must read it soon. I must say the woman in red cover is my fav

  3. it's a new discovery for for but i love the synopsis so i would be happy to win this thank you so so much for having a copy to send to international too !


  4. It sounds good! Thanks for the opportunity:)

    Aussie:) brendatelford(at)hotmail(dot)com

  5. I would like to thank you so much for a fantastic book giveaway, that i would love to have the oportunity of reading! I am a huge fan of historical ficition from authors such as Anne Clinard Barnhill, to Susan Fraser king and Christine Blevins ect. and love anything that is set within my city of London too. Having read the synopsis i am facinated about the two main characters and thier lives in 17th century London, which brings a sense of nostalgia as i recall my own family tree and what England must have been like at the time. (the squalor, grime and filth admist the bustling city). This sounds very atmospheric and i would be very interested to find out more about these characters and thier lives.
    Thank you once again for this brilliant giveaway and i shall definately be adding 'the gilded lily' to my to-read shelf along with finding out more about Deborah Swift. I love both the UK & other covers of this book that are both quite beautiful and capture the era perfectly. Thank you x

    Email: lfountain1(at)hotmial(dot)co(dot)uk

    I would love to know the author's inspiration behind her work and what brought to mind 'the gilded lily' as it formed in her head? x

  6. So glad you recommend it because a friend passed her copy to me! Yay!

  7. Wow!! This sounds wonderful! Thanks for the chance!!

  8. I would love to win this book, thank you for the chance.

    For the author - I really enjoy looking at both covers for this book. Also the book sounds like it moves right along. Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  9. Wow! I love both covers, but ESPECIALLY the international one. Very eye-catching.
    Ella and Sadie sound like gripping characters. Must be--to make a reader want to slap one! lol
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book and to become acquainted with a author I've never read before!

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  10. I did not get to review The Lady's Slipper but so wanted to. This one looks just as compelling. The covers, as mentioned are stunning. Will there be further books in the series?
    thank you!
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  11. Aww, I love historical fiction! :D
    And the cover is lovely! Both are!

  12. Hi everyone who has commented so far. I love the covers too, both the UK and the USA one. They bring out different aspects of the plot - one shows more action, danger and intrigue, and the other more about what the sisters' relationship in the book is like.

    I was inspired to call the book The Gilded Lily by a quotation by Shakepeare, which says that it is pointless to adorn something that is already beautiful - 'to gild the lily'. Actually the quote has come down into common usage wrongly - the actual quote is 'paint the lily, or gild refined gold.'But somehow the phrase 'gild the lily' has stuck. Ella Appleby in the book is intent on gilding herself with cosmetics in order to rise in society, so in a sense the title refers to her. In the book it is also the name of a shop which sells beauty potions and ointments.

    In general my inspiration comes from aspects of history that I think I'd like to explore for myself - in this case the narrow band of time in 17th century London which was not beset by the Plague, the Fire or the repression of Puritan rule. The characters themselves inspire me - I loved Sadie who is the underdog in the novel. I enjoy my research books and spend a lot of time browsing them. Thanks for your questions!

  13. Sounds like a great book! I have been waiting for this to come out ever since reading the author's previous book. Thanks for the giveaway!

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

  14. I was completely absorbed by her previous novel, so would love to win this one. Thanks for the giveaway!
    Rexmoy(at) gmail (dot) com

  15. Yours is the second positive review I've read and this book will be going on my TBR list. Thanks.

  16. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, particularly in this era, so fingers crossed for me! :) I'm in Australia, and I tweeted about it here:

    kate1485 at hotmail dot com

  17. I must be living under a rock because this is the first I've read about this book. However, it won't be the last time because I want to read it! I love it when a book can conjure up such vivid emotions, smells, and thoughts. And wasn't it depressing the bleak existence of the poor??? Loving this review, my Dear!

  18. I haven't read her previous novel but have gone back to read the reviews. I'd like to read them both. Thanks for the giveaway.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  19. This sounds like an intriguing historical novel with a lot of detail about everyday life in that time and place. I'm always on the lookout for a page-turner. :-)

  20. I love historical fiction, but I don't think I've ever read one about the common people. They're always about the high-born and their political and socio-economic scheming. A story about the English majority sounds fabulous!

  21. Tweet:

  22. You know Sheree I am a sucker for Historical Fiction and this being set amongst the poorer classes is fascinating.

    Please enter me for the Aussie copy.

    A question for Deborah Swift (if she is still checking) why focus on the lower class of England in the 1700's? especially when Royalty seems to be all the rage (and thank you for doing it, I like reading about all different kinds of lives in historical novels not just the upper class).

  23. 460 pages - a nice meaty book. And it looks like it's not a complete romance story, but a nice historical fictional novel. Which I like to read once in a while.

    It's been a long time, though since I read a straight historical fiction. I read somewhere that the dialog was good in this book - that's a clincher for me. Dialog can make or break a book for me. :)

  24. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and I would love to read about this era, what a facinating period in history. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me for your aussie giveaway
    :-) many thanks

    amandabarrett81 at gmail dot com

  25. This book sounds intense and so intriguing! And both covers are beautiful!
    Thanks for the giveaway :)
    eli_green22 at yahoo dot com dot br

  26. Hi Caspette, and all the other commenters, thanks for your comments. I think I often choose to write about ordinary people because I can get closer to them emotionally.Not having been brought up in a palace, I feel much more qualified to write about the ordinary person! I think that women in history are often hidden unless they are Royal, and I like the idea of bringing those hidden lives into our consciousness so we get a more rounded view of history.I chose the 17th century because London at that time is at is most celebratory after the end of Puritan rule. I wanted to explore it through the wide eyes of my two country girls before the Plague and the Great Fire change the City of London forever.

    1. Thanks Deborah, looks like there's quite a few of us who appreciate stories about commoners, a nice change from royalty! Although being dirt poor in 17th century London doesn't hold much appeal lol

  27. I love this cover! Another great recommendation :)

  28. wow..great cover and thanks for introducing me a new for me author :D

    uniquas at ymail dot com


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