A Novel of Old New YorkBook - 2017
WINNER OF THE RSL ONDAATJE PRIZE
WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE
NAMED "NOVEL OF THE YEAR" BY THE UK'S SUNDAY TIMES
"Delirious storytelling backfilled with this much intelligence is a rare and happy sight." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"[Francis Spufford is] an author capable of making any topic, however unlikely, at once fascinating and amusing. Golden Hill is both." -- The New Yorker
"Nothing short of a masterpiece." -- The Guardian
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 story "taut with twists and turns" that "keeps you gripped until its tour-de-force conclusion" ( The Times , London). 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.
From Library Staff
SPL_Brittany Jul 31, 2017
A full review can be found in the Summary section. Review first published in the Stratford Gazette August 2017.
From the critics
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On a chilly November evening Mr. Smith, a handsome young stranger arrives at the docks in Manhattan with a note in his pocket for what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds - a large sum. He travels to a counting house on Golden Hill Street to see Mr. Lovell a merchant trader, who has sixty days to make good on the bill Smith presented. 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. As such, he is greeted with suspicion and questions from the locals. Who is this mysterious Mr. Smith? What are his intentions? Where did he acquire the money from? Is he honourable or a thief? This novel follows the delightful adventures and hilarious misadventures of Mr. Smith throughout the sixty days, as he navigates Manhattan via salons, courtrooms, brawls, prisons and high speed chases all the while putting into question, who is swindling who?
Written in the language of the time, Spufford pays homage to the literature of the colonial era as he fashions a richly detailed tapestry of eighteen century Manhattan that immerses the reader in the political, social and commercial life of the city. A novel filled with a well-developed cast of characters colliding from all corners of society as they encounter the mysterious Mr. Smith. Full of entertaining twists and turns and unexpected revelations, Spufford writes a savvy depiction of life in the colonies. Inspired by the novels of Henry Fielding, it is a story of race, gender, and class that is both clever and satirical, as well as perceptive and somber. A thoroughly entertaining read for those who enjoy novels by eighteenth century authors as well as those who enjoy historical and literary fiction.
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