Golden Hill: Book summary and reviews of Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

Golden Hill

A Novel of Old New York

by Francis Spufford

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

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Book Summary

Winner of the 2017 Costa First Novel Award.

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, in "a first-class period entertainment" (The Guardian).

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 pitches up 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?

Set thirty years before the American Revolution, Golden Hill captures an ancient iconography of New York not only in his depictions of the physical city and its diverse citizens, currencies, and costumes, but also in the clever and pungent language of his prose. Golden Hill is an update of eighteenth-century picaresque novels by the likes of Henry Fielding and entertains us with its savage wit, mystery, charismatic protagonist, and romantic storyline as it propels us toward a powerful revelation at the novel's end. "Intoxicating" (The Financial Times) and "as good a historical novel as you could read" (The Times, London), Golden Hill shows us a city provokingly different from its later self; but subtly shadowed by the great icon to come, and already a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself anew, fall in love—and find a world of trouble.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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." - Iain Pears

"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." - Jo Baker

"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." - Guardian (UK)

"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)


"Francis Spufford has one of the most original minds in contemporary literature." - Nick Hornby

"Addictively readable." - Mark Haddon

The information about Golden Hill shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Francis Spufford Author Biography

Francis Spufford, a former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year (1977), has edited two acclaimed literary anthologies and a collection of essays on the history of technology. His first book, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination, was awarded the Writers Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 1996 and a Somerset Maugham Award, and also inspired a Frankfurt Ballet production and a clown show at the Edinburgh Festival 2001. His second, The Child that Books Built, was described as 'witty, compelling and elegant' by the New Statesman. His third, Backroom Boys, was called a 'beautifully written book' by the Daily Telegraph and was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

His first novel, Golden Hill, was published in the UK in 2016 and ...

... Full Biography
Author Interview
Link to Francis Spufford's Website

Name Pronunciation
Francis Spufford: SPUFF-ord (rhymes with stuff)

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