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.
The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift is a companion novel to The Lady’s Slipper and continues the story of Ella Appleby.
In 1661, Ella is working as a maid for a wealthy gentleman. When she finds him dead, she steals numerous valuables from the home, grabs her sister Sadie, who has a large red birthmark on her face, and they flee to London to start a new life. But life there proves to be harder than the life they left behind. Soon, wanted-posters begin to appear and a hefty reward is offered for the capture of the two sisters. The sisters find work in a wig-making shop, but Ella soon loses her job there and comes to the attention of Jay Whitgift. Whitgift is a notorious pawnbroker who runs a clandestine theft ring. When he decides to set up a womans’ ladies beauty salon, he chooses Ella to work there. This causes discord between the two sisters, forcing Ella to make harsh decisions in order to avoid being identified and captured.
Deborah Swift’s latest novel is one that will grab your interest from first page to last. This dark novel sweeps the reader into London’s poorest areas to show the desperation and hardships of the poor and middle class people in their day-to-day lives. 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. Ella makes some cruel decisions, yet not to the extent where the reader will despise her. Rather, although her actions are unpalatable, readers can understand her motivations clearly. There are plenty of villains too. Jay Whitgift and his circle of friends are criminals of the worst sort – exploiting and debauching innocent girls, thievery, gambling, and even murder.
The entertainment value of this novel is extremely high, the storyline fascinating, the characters memorable. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading Deborah Swift’s next book.