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The Gilded Lily Paperback – 13 Sep 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Paperback, 13 Sep 2012
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330543431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330543439
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 773,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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

Book Description

Beauty is skin-deep. Blood is deeper.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Terry Tyler TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Nov. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've just read this in two days - yes, folks, I couldn't put it down!

The Gilded Lily is a Restoration period drama about two sisters who run away from rural Westmorland to London after the elder one, Ella, robs the house in which she was in service. There is also doubt cast about her part in two deaths. It's about survival in the frightening, dark, murky alleys and squalid lodgings down by the Thames, and the steps Ella and Sadie take not to be discovered for their crimes. The novel is extremely well researched, so real. The domestic detail is fascinating, and the author describes so well the bleakness of the girls' lives.

It's hard to say why you find a novel unputdownable, but I've just spent about 4 hours curled up with the second half, and there was no way I was not going to finish it today! Ms Swift is a marvellous storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her books. Highly, highly recommended to all lovers of historical fiction; I didn't know much about this particular period but it's made me want to know more. You'll probably like it even if you think historical fiction is not your thing; it's just a great story, fabulously well told - a well deserved five stars!
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By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
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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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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I'm not a great fan of historical fiction, especially the romantic sort, but this is a gritty, exciting tale about the relationship between two sisters, one a naughty girl, the other an innocent with a disfigured face. Deborah Swift is particularly good at evoking the physical reality of long ago, the smells, the hunger, the violence, the fun of the frost fair on the frozen Thames, the pleasure of a new silk dress. She also knows how to keep the reader turning the pages: there are some very bad baddies who get their come-uppance,but very nearly do terrible things to our heroines. It was interesting to see the bond between sisters explored instead of the usual boy-girl romance, though there is some of that too, subtly done. I am horribly ignorant of this period of history so I found all the detail about 1661 London fascinating. I devoured the book greedily while wind and rain howled around my house. A great tale for a winter night told by a masterly storyteller.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. According to the publicity it was supposed to bring Restoration London to life, but I think the author got a bit bogged down and, for me, the world we were invited to enter was very claustrophobic and really quite dull, despite the contrived peril the sisters found themselves in. The pace was slow, and I kept finding myself wishing we could move on past the bickering of the sisters and their somewhat predictable story to something we could get excited (or even care) about. I also felt that the book would have been better set in the Victorian period-at least that is how it read to me.
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