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BY FRANCES SPUFFORD
Winner of the Costa Book Awards (2016), Golden Hill is a clever and entertaining historical novel that transports the reader to the colonial infancy of New York, 1746.
Full of punchy pace, the story opens with the arrival of a charming and handsome young stranger, Mr Smith, who fresh off the boat from England, pitches up with a thousand pound bill that he wishes to cash. Can he be trusted? This is a place where a young man with a fast tongue can reinvent himself afresh, fall in love and find a world of trouble.
It’s a wild card choice for us because it teased and delivered unexpected twists and turns, keeping us on our toes. But it’s not an easy read. The language was challenging at first, but once we were able to decipher and immerse ourselves into 18th century New York, the book delighted us all with its amusing cast of characters.
What’s more Golden Hill oozes historical detail without being overbearing - the pictures of the early settlers from Amsterdam, England and other European cities arriving into the new financial district are fascinating and beautifully drawn. You can also feel the buzz of the New World bringing together merchants, daughters, murderers and slaves. A melting pot of opportunists – great for people watching.
This is a new direction for Frances Spufford, who has many high-praised non-fictions books in historical writing, political and theological.
Scored nothing below a 7 and a golden sprinkle of 8s.
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