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Golden Hill Paperback – September 29, 2016
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“[Golden Hill] left my mind feeling like it had been kissed by some sunburn. Its action is so vivid that you seem to be consuming (imagine Wolf Blitzer’s voice here) breaking news. Delirious storytelling backfilled with this much intelligence is a rare and happy sight…Spufford’s resources are implausibly deep. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge said of Shakespeare, the fellow is myriad-minded.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Francis Spufford has one of the most original minds in contemporary literature."
“One is drawn ineluctably into the world of colonial New York from the first sentence of Golden Hill. Wonderfully written and entertaining.”
“Admirably eccentric… The boisterous plot is perfectly in keeping with its mid-18th century setting… This wonderful novel concludes with one further revelation, one that will make you reflect once again what a gloriously tricky fellow this Francis Spufford is.” —Boston Globe
“Francis Spufford’s fiction début is a fast-paced romp, but it keeps its eyes on the moral conundrums of America…[He is] an author capable of making any topic, however unlikely, at once fascinating and amusing. Golden Hill is both.” —The New Yorker
“A virtuoso literary performance.”
—Booklist, starred review
“A successful homage to the great master of the picaresque novel, Henry Fielding.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Recounting this picaresque rale with serious undertones, Spufford adeptly captures 18th-century commercial practices and linguistic peculiarities as well as pre-Revolutionary Manhattan’s cultural hodgepodge…readers are rewarded with a feast of language, character, local color, and historical detail.”
"Francis Spufford has long been one of my favourite writers of non-fiction; he is now becoming a favourite writer of fiction as well. Golden Hill is a meticulously crafted and brilliantly written novel that is both an affectionate homage to the 18th century novel and a taut and thoughtful tale."
"I loved this book so much. Golden Hill wears its research with incredible insouciance and grace; a rollicking picaresque, it is threaded through with darkness but has a heart of gold."
“Marvelous. A vivid re-creation of colonial New York, in which the adventures of Mr. Smith, who may be a charlatan or a hero, make for a page turner, with an unexpected and unusually satisfying ending.”
—C. J. Sansom
“Sparkling…A first-rate entertainment with a rich historical feel and some delightful twists.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The intoxicating effect of Golden Hill is much more than an experiment in form. [Spufford] has created a complete world, employing his archivist skills to the great advantage of his novel ... This is a book born of patience, of knowledge accrued and distilled over decades, a style honed by practice. There are single scenes here more illuminating, more lovingly wrought, than entire books."
—Financial Times (UK)
"Like a newly discovered novel by Henry Fielding with extra material by Martin Scorsese. Why it works so well is largely down to Spufford's superb re-creation of New York ... His writing crackles with energy and glee, and when Smith's secret is finally revealed it is hugely satisfying on every level. For its payoff alone Golden Hill deserves a big shiny star."
—The Times (UK)
"Splendidly entertaining and ingenious ... Throughout Golden Hill, Spufford creates vivid, painterly scenes of street and salon life, yet one never feels as though a historical detail has been inserted just because he knew about it. Here is deep research worn refreshingly lightly ... a first-class period entertainment."
"Paying tribute to writers such as Fielding, Francis Spufford's creation exudes a zesty, pin-sharp contemporaneity ... colonial New York takes palpable shape in his dazzlingly visual, pacy and cleverly plotted novel."
—Daily Mail (UK)
"Golden Hill shows a level of showmanship and skill which seems more like a crowning achievement than a debut . [Spufford] brings his people and situations to life with glancing ease ... They all live and breathe with conviction ... His descriptive powers are amazing ... Spufford's extraordinary visual imagination and brilliant pacing seems to owe more to the movies than anything else."
—Evening Standard (UK)
“The best 18th century novel since the 18th century.”
—BBC Radio 4
“The entire flavor, tone, and prose of the book make this an exceptional read whose pages practically flew by.”
—Historical Novel Society
“There’s more life and variety in a single page of Francis Spufford’s prose than there is in many full-length books.”
“With Golden Hill?, Spufford adds another genre to an already impressive résumé.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Rich in authentic detail, energized by crackling dialogue, and flushed with lyrical grace…Golden Hill is a stunning evocation of a town before it boomed into a metropolis.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Golden Hill is a novel of place, and its richness of description and 18th century expression beggars the imagination. It is an extraordinary re-creation.” —The Buffalo News
“An immensely pleasurable novel by British author Francis Spufford that will charm New Yorkers acquainted with their city’s history and anyone who loves a well-told story…Read it for Spufford’s brilliant storytelling, pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and gift for re-creating a vanished time.” —Mary Ann Gwinn, Newsday
“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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Francis Spufford, a former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year (1997), has edited two acclaimed literary anthologies and a collection of essays about the history of technology. His first book, I May Be Some Time, won the Writers' Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 1996, the Banff Mountain Book Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. His second, The Child That Books Built, gave Neil Gaiman 'the peculiar feeling that there was now a book I didn't need to write'. His third, Backroom Boys, was called 'as nearly perfect as makes no difference' by the Daily Telegraph and was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College and lives near Cambridge. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
This is not an easy book to read. Spufford's writing style is dense, with long descriptive passages laden with archaic terms and 18th century spellings. Some passages are poetic and others, like the description of the nighttime celebration of Guy Fawkes, heart-pounding. Though primarily fiction, this is a fascinating glimpse of early New York :"a pinpoint of light for an uncertain dark continent" where the word "liberty" is spoken, yearned for and fans the spirit of early colonists into the flame of future rebellion.
This is the tale of Richard Smith, newly arrived in a town devoted to mercantilism and unjustifiably certain of its moral, social and political superiority. In his purse is a redeemable note for 1,000 pounds sterling that is due for payment in 60 days. Spufford expands upon that truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of good fortune must be in need of a wife and suggests a fleecing, backroom intrigue and half dozen plot twists and turns are also in order. The author shows a NY "in vitro"--well on its way to becoming the mother of Bull and Bear markets. bank runs and Ponzi (or is it Madoff) schemes.
The author’s command of the city’s history is remarkable and the detail extraordinary. Golden Hill is a tapestry of gorgeous thread that is seamlessly woven together with stellar writing and a gripping plot. The newness of New York is palpable with a dozen different currencies in circulation and sugar cane serving as specie; intelligent women are entombed in the counting house; virulent anti-Catholic mob violence is a sort of entertainment; the prevalence of slavery, and a hybrid of Dutch and English culture mix without quite blending. All genuflect to the goddess Commerce. There's a whiff of Fielding's Tom Jones about our hero; background hinted at but unknown. Vicissitude crams a 8 week timeline and wit is (as Fielding might say) our boon Companion.
I wondered if Spufford would contrive an ending worthy of the whole or fizzle out. Golden Hill doesn’t disappoint. It’s beautifully written and imagined from start to finish. One of my favorite books of the year. Very highly recommended.
Ending was a bit cloudy. So a 3 & 1/2 stars