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3.5 

Golden Hill

By Francis Spufford
Golden Hill by Francis Spufford digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

A Wall Street Journal Top Ten Fiction Book of 2017 * A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year * A Seattle Times Favorite Book of 2017 * An NPR Best Book of 2017 * A Kirkus Reviews Best Historical Fiction Book of the Year * A Library Journal Top Historical Fiction Book of the Year * Winner of the Costa First Novel Award, the RSL Ondaatje Prize, and the Desmond Elliott Prize * Winner of the New York City Book Award

“Gorgeously crafted…Spufford's sprawling recreation here is pitch perfect.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

“A fast-paced romp that keeps its eyes on the moral conundrums of America.” —The New Yorker

“Delirious storytelling backfilled with this much intelligence is a rare and happy sight.” —The New York Times

Golden Hill possesses a fluency and immediacy, a feast of the senses…I love this book.” —The Washington Post

The spectacular first novel from acclaimed nonfiction author Francis Spufford follows the adventures of a mysterious young man in mid-eighteenth century Manhattan, thirty years before the American Revolution.

New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746. One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat arrives at a countinghouse door on Golden Hill Street: this is Mr. Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion shimmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge sum, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he is planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money. Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?

Rich in language and historical perception, yet compulsively readable, Golden Hill is “a remarkable achievement—remarkable, especially, in its intelligent re-creation of the early years of what was to become America’s greatest city” (The Wall Street Journal). Spufford paints an irresistible picture of a New York provokingly different from its later metropolitan self, but already entirely a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself afresh, fall in love—and find a world of trouble. Golden Hill is “immensely pleasurable…Read it for Spufford’s brilliant storytelling, pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, and gift for re-creating a vanished time” (New York Newsday).

26 Reviews

3.5
“Golden Hill ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(and a half) Wow, what a surprising book. This was a book I picked up (by chance) in a bookshop due to me falling in love with the cover - terrible, I know. I think it’s common knowledge that I have a slight obsession with the 18th century and therefore I was surprised that I didn’t come across this book sooner. It was a fun little read that despite having some quite dense language in it (I totally relate dear author, I too don’t know when the hell to shut up) and a relatively quick read as well. My favourite part was the historical accuracy, it literally had me screaming with joy. I’m one of those awful people who will critique the crap out of what I read when it comes to accuracy and this book had me believing it was from 1740. The language, the fashion, the descriptions, the excessively capitalised nouns in the letters, I. Loved. It. The pacing was somewhat off but that’s my own personal taste and I found some of the plot twists to just not be my thing. (That thing with Septimus, if you know you know, WTF, he deserved so much better). In conclusion, this was a delightful and thought-provoking homage to the 18th century and it was shorter than a Sterne or a Fielding so I can’t blame you if you want to just read this instead)”
“Outstanding!!!”
“Very middle of the road for me. The characters were flat, but I liked seeing pre-revolution New York in a historical fiction. It dragged on a bit at the end (how many sticky situations can one character find themselves in??), and the mystery fell flat, but overall it was a decent story.”
“Have to agree with a previous reviewer; I had high hopes for this after excellent reviews and all the awards , I just couldn’t engage with any of the characters and felt it completely unbelievable and not at all humorous, if it hadn’t of been my book club’s September read Iv had ditched it. I also pushed on to find out what happened to mr smith and if his bill was genuine and really I shouldn’t it was v disappointing . Perhaps I just didn’t click with the author . The descriptions of New York in that period is the sole reason for my 3 stars not 1 .”

About Francis Spufford

Francis Spufford began as the author of four highly praised books of nonfiction. His first book, I May Be Some Time, won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Nonfiction Book of 1996, the Banff Mountain Book Prize, and a Somerset Maugham Award. It was followed by The Child That Books BuiltBackroom Boys, and most recently, Unapologetic. But with Red Plenty in 2012 he switched to the novel. Golden Hill won multiple literary prizes on both sides of the Atlantic; Light Perpetual was longlisted for the Booker Prize. In England he is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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