Synopses & Reviews
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 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.
"Golden Hill possesses a fluency and immediacy, a feast of the senses, without ever being pedantic. It is a historical novel for people who might not like them. In a year already ripe with tremendous fiction, did I mention that I love this book? I love this book." Washington Post
"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)
"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)
"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
"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
"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
"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
"[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
About the Author
Francis Spufford is the author of five 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 Built, Backroom Boys, Red Plenty (which was translated into nine languages), and most recently, Unapologetic. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College and lives near Cambridge, England. Golden Hill is his first novel.