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The Gilded Lily [Paperback]

Deborah Swift
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

13 Sep 2012

If you are a fan of books by Philippa Gregory then you might like The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift . . .

Winter, 1661. In her short life Sadie Appleby has never left rural Westmorland. But one night she is rudely awoken by her older and bolder sister, Ella. She has robbed her employer and is on the run. Together the girls flee their home and head for London, hoping to lose themselves in the teeming city. But the dead man's relatives are in pursuit, and soon a game of cat and mouse ensues amongst the freezing warren that is London in winter.

Ella is soon seduced by the glitter and glamour of city life and sets her sights on the flamboyant man-about-town, Jay Whitgift, owner of a beauty parlour for the wives of the London gentry. But nothing in the capital is what it seems, least of all Jay Whitgift. Soon a rift has formed between Ella and Sadie, and the sisters are threatened by a menace more sinister than even the law.

Set in a brilliantly realised Restoration London, The Gilded Lily is a novel about beauty and desire, about the stories we tell ourselves, and about how sisterhood can be both a burden and a saving grace.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (13 Sep 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0330543431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330543439
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 483,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. I'm a bookaholic and I read widely - contemporary and classic fiction as well as historical novels.

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website.

I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007 and now teach classes and courses in writing, and offer editorial advice from my home.
My books are:
The Lady's Slipper (shortlisted for the Impress Prize)
The Gilded Lily
A Divided Inheritance
Shadow on the Highway (part I of the Highway Trilogy for teens)

The photograph is by Jonathan Bean Photography.

Product Description


"There is no greater compliment than 'Give me more!' A delight." --Susanna Gregory

"Ms Swift's prose is compelling, her characters convincing" --Westmorland Gazette

"The Gilded Lily is impeccably written historical fiction. The detail is superb and life in London is so vividly depicted that the city seems to take on its own persona and become a lurking character in the story." --Let Them Read Books

"Where the author excels is in making the reader care for the two girls... I thoroughly enjoyed this tale that explored the darker side of Restoration London." --Historical Tapestry

"The intense evocation of the period never falters" --Gabrielle Kimm

"A heart-rending story of two sisters on the run, searching for a better life. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, the novel drew me straight into the teeming streets of Restoration London. An addictive, page-turning read." --Mary Sharratt

"The Gilded Lily had me hooked from the first chapter even the first page... I loved it." --Peeking Between the Pages

"The plot is gripping with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers interested. The characters are beautifully developed and three-dimensional. Each character has their own struggles to overcome as circumstances force them to do things and change in ways they would never have dreamed of...I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading Deborah Swift's next."
--History and Women

"Superb dialogue, steeped in contemporary language, adds credibility and atmosphere to this compelling tale which examines the ties that bind together siblings, the consequences of greed and ambition, the fickleness of fate and women's constant battle to survive in a man's world. The Gilded Lily is also a fast-paced adventure peopled with ruthless villains and feisty heroines whose exploits grab the imagination and add suspense and excitement to a historical gem." --Lancashire Evening Post

"Deborah Swift's captivating writing makes you feel as if you're in Restoration London alongside the two lead characters of this excellent historical novel. Highly recommended." --The Bookbag

About the Author

Deborah Swift has worked in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer. She has a BA in Theatre Design and an MA in Creative Writing. She lives in Windermere, Cumbria.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Restoration Romp 7 Oct 2012
Deborah Swift's second novel, The Gilded Lily, tells the tale of two sisters, Ella and Sadie Appleby, who flee from Westmorland to London following the suspicious death of Ella's employer. Once there they secure employment in a wigmaker's workshop (a boom industry in the late 17th century), but before long their past catches up with them and they are forced to go on the run once again.

Thanks to a fortuitous meeting with a rich young playboy, Ella lands a role in another growing new industry - the selling of beautifying lotions and potions to idle society ladies - in a shop called The Gilded Lily. However, Sadie finds survival less easy thanks to the port-wine birthmark which covers half her face and makes her an easy target for bounty hunters and busybodies eager to claim the reward offered for the capture of "The Savage Sisters".

The sights and smells (particularly the smells!) of Restoration London are vividly described and the sisters' exploits make for a fast-paced and exciting tale, rich in atmosphere and adventure. Ella is a bold and feisty young woman, making up for what she lacks in talent and experience with a good dose of charm and naked ambition. Sadie is her polar opposite - bright but timid and sensitive. Although the main characters are fictional, the author has included enough actual events and cameos from real people of the time to give the story atmosphere and authenticity.

The storyline could lead to comparisons with Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue or Scapegallows by Carol Birch - I'd say it's a lighter read than those two, but no less enjoyable, and in terms of period detail I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoyed The Apothecary's Daughter by Charlotte Webb or The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put it Down 7 Sep 2012
I've been waiting for this since reading Swift's The Lady's Slipper, and it was worth the wait. From the first page to the last, The Gilded Lily, transports readers deep into the world of London during 1661. The pace quickens with each chapter as two sisters, accused of murder and theft, try to assume new identities. Swift, who understands the power of details, shows a side of London that is rarely seen in historical fiction. As the title suggests, the novel is layered with themes: greed, deception, the treatment of women, and good vs. evil. But always, this compelling and often heartbreaking story speaks to the bond shared between sisters.

I highly recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As finely sewn as a brocade gown 18 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Deborah Swift's portrayal of seventeenth-century London has an edge to it which cuts through the sumptuousness of her description making this a book I stayed up late to read on several nights. Her London is a place of opportunity and hazard. Fortunes can be made and necks can be broken on the gallows. The latter fate might be that of two sisters: Sadie and Ella. How do people react to extreme pressure? Ella develops an edge as sharp and brittle as the glassware her employer, Jay, admires so much. Ella seems to have lost her soul as she turns to paints and potions and hair dye to make herself into a seventeenth-century WAG? Her gentler, more reflective sister, Sadie, handicapped by a birthmark on her face, starts to fear this is the case. At various stages of the narrative both girls are imprisoned and this physical incarceration underlines the other ways human beings can imprison themselves.

Deborah Swift knows the seventeenth century and the snowbound London of The Gilded Lily will stay with me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read with historical accuracy 30 Sep 2012
This book held me from beginning to end. I am not usually a reader of historical fiction but I found this to be a gripping read.
What I enjoyed most was the juxtaposition of two characters who were sisters. I was convinced by both of them and enjoyed their relationship as it grew in depth.

The plot is admirably constructed. There is never a dull moment and there were no loose ends except a slight twist at the end that makes me long for a sequel. The plot is not straightforward. It is complex and compelling and holds the reader to the final denouement.

I am not a historian but the historical detail that I did know led me to believe all the rest. Occasionally I was puzzled by some of the language in inverted commas but this may be my ignorance of the dialect on my part. I loved the historical detail, gobbets of sheer delight that made me see the landscape and the inner home scape of the two sisters clearly and with fascination.

I liked this book so much that I bought a copy for a friend at work. She has not finished it yet but she too was fascinated by the social history and the life of the two sisters. I have read another book by Swift Called the Lady's Slipper. The main character of the Gilded Lily has a life in this book as well. I just hope that there is a sequel so I can follow the characters further.

I even liked the cover of the book! So, you must be thinking, what didn't you like? As an academic I am expected to be critical. I find myself thinking that the only thing that annoyed me was some of the words I did not know. Were they dialect or historical vocabulary? Maybe future works could have an explanatory note or glossary for the reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I enjoyed The Lady's Slipper but this was even better. A page-turner with fantastic characters and perfect period detail. A must read.
Published 7 hours ago by Laura Purcell
5.0 out of 5 stars Good characterisation, such that you care about what fate ...
Good characterisation, such that you care about what fate awaits the sisters - and so a real page turner. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Katy
2.0 out of 5 stars The Gilded Lily
A little slow to start with then picked up with pace to the point I was imagining all sorts of things way before it happened and I had got it wrong. Enjoyable read. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Margaret jarvis
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, with Dickensian characters and fabulous...
I'll be honest here I'm in the fortunate position of receiving quite a few free books and win quite a few too and the excitement of winning a signed copy of a brand new title of a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Beadyjan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
a cracking good read couldn't put it down, exciting from beginning to end the author really brought the characters to life.
Published 7 months ago by wendy
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Prompt delivery. n excellent book-well-written and full of detail. Good characterisations and historically accurate. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Eiles
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Forever Amber' it ain't
I love this period of English history, so when I saw this book I just couldn't wait to read it. I have to say, however, and with a great deal of regret, that I found it hard going. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Christine Goodier
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
This book had me enthralled from the first to last page. I had read the first book from this author, The Lady's Slipper and really enjoyed it , but I found this book much more... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Scotty
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I loved reading this book, i bought it for my holiday read & could not put it down, each page the story has you gripped
Published 19 months ago by Ms. H. M. Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I enjoyed every page of this carefully written book, with its unexpected turns of the storylines and wealth of description about London in 1661. Well worth reading.
Published 20 months ago by Jacqui O
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