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4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 November 2014
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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on 9 March 2017
The Gilded Lily tells a frightening tale of two young girls in Restoration London. Young Sadie has been brought from her country home in Cumberland by her more worldly older sister, Ella, to start a new life. Ella has stolen from the house of her dead Master and now she is suspected of his murder. Perhaps they could have gone unnoticed, but Sadie has a distinctive port wine stain on her face and the dead man’s brother is hunting for them.

As Ella becomes entwined in the dangerous world of ambitious Jay Whitgift, she decides Sadie must hide away. As a reader, I empathised with Sadie, feeling trapped in this city, teeming with unkind, threatening people but Ella’s thoughtless behaviour is rooted in her tragic childhood and her longing for love and prosperity.

The story shows the hard toil of girls making wigs in a perruquier’s workshop, the corrupt world of rich, self-obsessed young men and the lives of ordinary people such as clerks and barber-surgeons in 17th century London. I particularly liked the role of the Thames, which fills Sadie with awe, as she watches a ship set sail on a distant voyage while later Ella sells beauty products from a stall on the frozen river. The details of life, the complexity of the plot and the variety of characters take time to unfold but the pace hots up in the last few chapters where the plight of Ella and Sadie worsens and there seems no escape from the gallows.

For Sadie and Ella, the bond of sisterhood is sorely tried by their difficulties and separation but they cannot deny their need for one another. The Gilded Lily which shines so brightly in Ella’s eyes proves to be fool’s gold concealing ugliness.
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on 12 June 2017
Again I liked the story, didn't think it as well written in the middle. Excellent beginning, and good ending found somewhere in the middle a bit slow. Overall a nice plot.
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on 23 April 2017
This is the second book that I have read by Author Deborah Swift and they are both as good as each other.
I look forward to reading more by this author.
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on 4 June 2017
Having read The Lady's Slipper previously, I was very pleased this continued a branch of the story further. Both books are an excellent read, graphic in description as you can almost smell the filth/sewage on the London streets. This is my first read of Deborah Swift novels and I will certainly look for more.
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on 28 May 2017
I enjoyed reading this well written novel and admire the author's skill in bringing the period to life.
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on 17 May 2017
most enjoyable
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 March 2014
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 book I've heard good things about never dissipates (OK I admit that I'm a hopeless book addict). Which is why I literally jumped for joy when I won a signed copy of The Gilded Lily.

I KNEW I was going to like this historical fiction set in grimy, 17th century, restoration London. When I received my copy and saw the gorgeous cover I was smitten, my only concern being that there is a previous book by the author The Lady's Slipper featuring some of the same characters and I worried it might be a little difficult to follow not having read it. My concerns were unfounded, this makes a great stand alone novel and a perfect introduction to the authors beautiful writing.

The Gilded Lily is the story of two sisters, Ella and Sadie, fleeing from their rural home in the North, taking items with them from Emmas previous employer to which she has no right. The girls head for the seething mass and anonymity of the city of London in a bid to escape persecution for a greater crime than the theft of some treasures, Ella swears she did not commit although it soon becomes apparent that she is a much more flighty and unreliable character than her shy, timid sister born with a disfiguring birthmark on her face.

Unlike Sadie, whose natural instinct is to hide away from company, vivacious Ella is more ambitious and outgoing and soon forsakes the job both girls have found working in a Perrukiers weaving wigs from discarded human hair (yeeuch), for the chance to better herself and sets her cap at the enigmatic and striking Jay Whitgift, son of a respected pawnbroker seeking to diversify the family business in more ways than one.

The Gilded Lily is a ladies salon he opens in the grounds of the secondhand business, primarily to relive the wives and daughters of wealthy businessmen of their husbands hard earned wealth and he employs Ella to help him do this.

Soon she gets ideas far above her station and despite Sadies loyalty to her flighty sister, she increasingly leaves Sadie to fend for herself in the squalor of their rented room in the delightfully named Blackraven lane. Meanwhile the search for the 2 fleeing sisters continues and their increasing notoriety means measures have to be taken to ensure they are not recognised in public and gradually both girls lives grow much worse.

It's stunningly written with a Dickensian quality, especially in the names of the vividly created characters and places. I was gripped from start to finish, and despite wanting to give Sadie a little shake now and again I had great empathy for her and enjoyed watching her character develop. It has taken a while to finish it, but the ending was full of action and very satisfying and I actually put the book down at around midnight with about 30 pages to go only to wake up at 1.30 am realizing I couldn't wait until the next day to find out what happened, so put on the bedside light and finished it there and then.

It's almost a coming of age novel but with huge depth and I liked it as much as one of my favourite books Slammerkin

I'm actually relieved that I did enjoy it as much as I'd hoped (if not more) as sadly so often books which sound great don't quite live up to expectations - this one exceeds them and I will be rushing out to get a copy of the prequel to this today!
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on 14 October 2012
"Beauty is skin-deep. Blood runs deeper" The exquisite, beautiful cover of this novel is striking, standing out on the bookshelf from other novels as it takes you back in time even before you open its pages. I was so excited by the prospect of reading a new fictional work within a genre that I adore, by an author whose work I had not encountered before and yet now whom I hope I will discover more of.
Set in the harsh winter of 1661 this tale follows Sadie Appleby from Westmorland, who with her sister Ella is on the run from undertaking a robbery (her recently deceased employer) heading to London. However the past catches up with them as his relatives begin the chase in the cold winter, scurrying after the girls around the bustling city teeming with all kinds of people. Seduced and mesmerized by all that London has to offer, Ella is captivated by a Jay Whitgift who is not the man that he appears to be and nothing is as it seems. Soon tensions arise between the sisters as hidden secrets are revealed and an ever present threat shows itself, even more deadly than the law. Deborah Swift brings history to life in all its color and glory by sending the reader back into a time that was full of deceit, beauty and desire. Here one discovers the bond between flesh and blood and its strength as to that compared to romantic love and friendship, where the two sisters are connected; being both a burden and a powerful thing. As Ella begins to work in the shop `The Gilded Lily' selling beautifying lotions and potions, she settles down into secure employment whilst trying to put the past behind her. For Sadie life is much harder, namely due to her birthmark scar which causes unwelcome attention to a timid and sensitive young girl.
Deborah Swift's second novel (The Lady's Slipper novel one), is an accurate and authentic exposé of the seventeenth-century. It is a time when fortunes can be made and lost, of opportunity and where you find your inmost self. Atmospheric and authentic this is a gripping tale, full of exciting adventure with faced-paced action that leaves you breathless. The emotion and heartbreaking words touch your inmost soul as this captivating story takes your breath away. I lost myself within the characters lives; their trials and tribulations. I was astonished by the author's skill and accomplished writing that contains a perfect balance of historical detail (from research) and narrative, that brings a bygone era back to life as you immerse yourself within the sights and sounds of a once booming industry. The depth of feeling and expression through the main characters was touching, as I was able to relate and empathize with them as the author added realism into their tale. The use of detailed description really brought the words to life so that once I began to read I was unable to tear my eyes away from this most interesting story that felt like I was watching a classic film. I can't enthuse enough about this wonderful story that was as delicate as lace and as well-structured as works by Diana Gabaldon, Christine Blevins or Gillian Bagwell.

I would like to thank the author for holding her outstanding book as a giveaway on DizzyC'sLittleBookBlog and for Carol hosting it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interesting tale, hence I cannot wait to discover and read more of the author's works.
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on 4 June 2017
This is the second book by Deborah Swift I have read. I enjoyed this one even more than The Ladies Slipper. There's a good range of characters​.
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