Review: The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray10:00
Author: Lucinda Gray
Published August 2nd 2016 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can't accept that her brother's death was an accident.
A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There's a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother's killer claim her life, too?
I ordered this book because of the period it's set in. The early 1800s are one of my favourite historical periods to read about, especially when set in England. I had seen some negative reviews, but still wanted to read it, to see what I thought. Unfortunately, I probably would've been better off not getting this book, or at least waiting for my library to get it instead.
The Gilded Cage begins in Virginia, USA, when Katherine Randolph discovers that she and her brother are the heirs to the Walthingham country estate in England, and skips forward four weeks, to their presentation ball. Katherine and George are starting to settle into the stuffy life of British aristocracy, when a terrible 'accident' happens, and George is found dead in an icy lake. Everyone believes it was just an accident, a slip in the icy after a drunken night; everyone that is, except for Kat. After rumours of a beast of Walthingham start to circulate, she believes there was something shady at hand, and won't stop at nothing to find out the truth.
I liked Kat, I did, but she wasn't anything special. There wasn't really anything about her to make her memorable, and I'll probably forget about her soon enough, if I'm being really honest. Like many women of that time, she's treated like a frail, young thing, often sent to bed or excluded for conversations, so as not to disturb her delicate sensibilities. No one really takes her seriously, and she is helpless, even though she's now the sole heiress to the large estate.
I did like the tiny romantic aspect between Kat and Mr Simpson, the estate's lawyer. He was the only one to see Kat as a real person, capable of thought and reason, and not some vapid socialite who needs coddling.
Because Kat is only 16, and unmarried, she needs to be under the guardianship of her two cousins, Grace and Henry, who I disliked from the beginning. There always seemed to be something off about the pair, and the further you get into the book, the more and more this feeling grew.
I liked the mysterious aspect, of whether there was a 'beast' or not roaming the grounds, and because of that, the book is a 3 star read. However, it dragged on at times, and then the ending was so rushed, it was unbelievable. Honestly, parts of the middle section could've been completely scrapped, if the ending would've had a bit more care taken, it would've been more enjoyable to read.
I probably wouldn't recommend this book, if I'm being really honest. If you want a good book from this era, I could give you a few other options that are so much better.