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Hosack's Folly: A Novel of Old New York Hardcover – April 17, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Yellow fever, bad water and political corruption make for high drama in a lively, well-researched novel set in 1820s New York City. David Hosack was the doctor famous for attending Hamilton after his duel with Aaron Burr and for founding Bellevue as a hospital for yellow fever victims. As the novel opens, the fever epidemic of 1814 is still a grim memory, and the doctor and his young assistant, Albert Dash, are calling for a quarantine of New York Harbor, as they believe the sickness spreads from incoming ships. Eamonn Casey, publisher of the New York Herald, and John Laidlaw, a Wall Street tycoon, dispute this theory; Casey, planning to run for governor, agrees to protect Laidlaw's interests in the port in exchange for his financial backing. Dash and Hosack's struggle to thwart the politicians and the disease takes readers through reeking hospitals, closed-door meetings, society soirees and the raging, teeming life of the Bowery, climaxing with scenes of a terrifying riot in the Park Theatre and a panicky mass flight from the city. A love triangle subplot feels a bit hackneyed and sometimes threatens to take over the story, yet the novel contains such vivid scenes and reaches such a satisfying conclusion that it's easy to forgive some occasionally shallow writing. Wood admirably reminds readers of the strange and haphazard evolution of the science, government and culture we take for granted. (Apr.)Forecast: Local sales should be strongest for this New York novel by a transplanted Australian—it would sit well next to the massive Burrows/Wallace history Gotham.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


A fascinating first novel. Recommended for fans of historical fiction. -- Kathy Piehl, Library Journal

An engaging tale that combines themes of political, journalistic, and mercantile skullduggery with a gentle romance. -- The Historical Novels Review

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; First Edition edition (April 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159051162X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590511626
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,174,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this quick paced historical novel. It is 1820's in Manhattan and there is the threat of yellow fever .Dr. Hosack, founder of Bellevue hospital and Columbia Medical school, has predicted an epidemic during the summer. However there is much talk about the increasing lack of drinkable water in the city. Powerful businessmen and corrupt politicians attempt to avert the public's eye from the imminent threat of the fever for their own gains, not allowing the port to be closed and quarantined. There is also a visionary with designs for an aqueduct and a powerful newspaperman who shares that vision. There is some intricate plotting against Hosack and he must rely on his assistant, Dr. Albert Dash to uncover the schemes and alert the public to the truth. There are romantic interludes among the younger characters in the story but also some well-detailed and enlightening historical detail.

I think this debut novel would be an interesting read for many and also a good choice as a book club book. The historical information is so well infused in the story that you don't even realize how much you are learning about this time period. I would recommend this book as a good, page turning read.
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Format: Paperback
In Hosack's Folly, Wood intersperses beautiful poetic passages with the excitement of a historical thriller. The novel tells an American tale of political corruption, romance, and the desire to do right by the people. With the threat of yellow fever and dwindling sources of clean water, old New York faces a public crisis. Renowned but scandal-ridden doctor David Hosack and his young protege, Albert Dash, strive to protect public health by exposing the corrupt politicians who would cover up the threat.

The novel includes unexpected treats in things like the description of one of the characters' (Virginia's) childhood bed curtain. Details thus illuminated bring everyday objects to life and place the reader squarely in the time period, all the while maintaining the page-turning fast pace of the plot. These descriptive passages also lend the novel a poetic feel so that readers feel they've not only experienced the era, but have experienced some of its forgotten beauty.

I give the novel four stars instead of five only because the promise of the author shows through but does not feel entirely realized. I know I am eagerly awaiting a second novel from this lifetime scholar and secret poet.
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By kcummins on January 20, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Very entertaining book.
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