Like, I COULD point out all the stuff that's wrong with this book, but here's the thing: when I was reading it I kept having to put it down so I could go on wikipedia benders looking up all of the historical references that litter every page, because my high school world history classes were a really long time ago, you know? Which is to say, reading this made me want to go learn stuff, and that's pretty cool. There aren't many novels I can say that about.
The romantic relationships were anemic and unconvincing, but the Catherine-Lily dynamic easily made up for it. Even though Catherine was kind of an asshole. Actually it was mostly just that Lily was awesome. I'm not convinced she was INTENDED to be the most three dimensional and likeable character, but if it was a mistake it was the best kind.