When I finished Deborah Swift’s The Lady’s Slipper a couple of years ago, I found myself wondering what might have happened to one of the minor characters in the book – the maid turned fugitive on the run, Ella Appleby.
In the follow up, The Gilded Lily (set in 1661), we find out. Dragging her sister Sadie along, the girls make their way to London where they hope to disappear and find jobs to support themselves. Although making her way in the world shouldn’t be a problem for the pretty and outgoing Ella, Sadie’s more reserved personality and large red birthmark on her face makes things more difficult for her. It also makes it harder for the girls to hide than they initially thought.
Things are tough in London and Ella and Sadie’s life is marked by poverty and a certain amount of despair. Swift does an excellent job of conveying how brutal things could be and at times the tone of the story becomes a little depressing. Ella continues to hope for better days though and she thinks she’s found the ticket in the swaggering Jay Whitgift who offers her a job. But the sisters journey to a better life in London won’t be that easy and in the struggle to survive, their relationship is tested in ways they could have never imagined. Anyone with a sibling will appreciate their love-hate give and take and I thought that aspect was very well done.
Much of the story is rather slow paced with not much really happening except the day-to-day routines Ella and Sadie settle into. One day often seems like the next and although that’s how most people’s lives really are (even in modern times), it doesn’t make for very exciting reading. The last quarter or so of the book really picks up though as Ella and Sadie are forced to fight for their freedom and ultimately, their lives.
In case the FTC asks: Copy from the publisher for the author’s blog tour
I have one copy of The Gilded Lily to giveaway - to anywhere in the world! To enter, please complete the below form by midnight on September 28, 2012.