Blog Tour: Gilding The Lily by Justine John – What Makes A Good Novel

justine profile photo Gilding The LilyThe blog tour train rolls in today. I am pleased to be welcoming Justine John to Novel Kicks. Her latest novel, Gilding The Lily was released on 24th November 2016.

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

I’ve reviewed Gilding The Lily below but first, Justine talks to us about what she feels makes a good novel. Over to you, Justine.

I’ve read a fair amount of books and the ones that I enjoy most are the ones that keep me guessing until the very end, and then for it to be a real wow-factor.

I love to see body language in a setting or a discussion and I like to be able to understand what the character is feeling, so I get to know them, their peculiarities and their traits. That makes them real for me.

Recently I read a novel, where I guessed who the culprit might be half way through – but I also thought ‘no, this writer is too clever – she is leading me up the garden path and in the end it will be someone else’. It made the story almost more intriguing. But the end revealed that the killer was who I thought it was after all. For me it was a big let-down and I was truly disappointed. It also put me off buying the writers next novel. It was well written, grammatically speaking, and the paragraphs, points of view and story rolled and built up nicely. It was just the ending that let me down.

I think good stories need ebbs and flows in waves. When I wrote my first draft, I started at one point, built it up and then ended it and it was over far too quickly. It had no red herrings, or false starts. I managed to sprinkle in a good few of those in, when I rewrote my further drafts. I think an ending should be an astonishing revelation, but some writers are clever enough to be so subtle you don’t see an entire change coming.

Justine John_BannerExamples include Jane Eyre, when it’s revealed that Mr Rochester is already married; The Shawshank Redemption, when the rock hammer that Andy Defrense asks for to continue his sculpting is used for his escape; and Oliver Twist, when Bill Sikes, an evil character, accidentally hangs himself with the rope that he was using to help him escape from his attackers.

I believe that surprise is the key. If a book can surprise me, it will keep me.


My verdict on Gilding The Lily:

Amelia has always had a strained relationship with her father, Roger. She feels that their relationship can be repaired slightly when her father’s current partner, Evelyn invites she and her  husband, Jack to Roger’s 75th birthday party. When they get there however, it is is a seedy nightclub – somewhere Amelia knows her Dad would hate. All try to make the most of the evening.

As the story progresses, over the course of two years, Evelyn begins to make it harder for Amelia to see her father. Evelyn’s behaviour gets more suspect and Amelia has to try and save the relationship with her father before it is too late.

Wow, this book was one of those books that just had me say wow at the end. It is steady to develop. It spans over two years but it pulled me in. I couldn’t put it down. I read it pretty much in one session.

I wasn’t sure how the beginning was going to tie up with the rest of the novel at first but there was a surprise at the end.

I really felt for Amelia and I liked Jack. I wasn’t sure about Laura at first. There was one character I really couldn’t warm to at all (despite trying to understand the motivations.) There are some intriguing characters in this book that was for sure.

This book does also bring up some moral questions and I am still trying to make my mind up.

Overall, a brilliant novel and I look forward to reading more from the author.


justine profile photoAbout Justine:

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat

race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

For more information, Justine has a website –, You can follow her on Twitter

She is also on Facebook – and Goodreads –

Gilding The Lily is available from most book shops or you can purchase from Amazon UK.


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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