Review published on July 8, 2016.
Golden Hill is everything a good historical novel should be. It really captures the atmosphere of the period, the historical research is obviously meticulous and yet never obtrusive and all aspects – plot, characters, language – work together to enhance the experience of being transported to eighteenth century New York.
The novel is set in 1746 when a handsome young man, Mr Smith, arrives from England with an order for one thousand pounds in his pocket. The New York merchants don’t know what to make of him and we are kept guessing till the end about whether the order is real or a forgery and what Mr Smith’s purpose is. This makes for a terrific page turner and you do want to find out what happens but the rich language and engrossing twists in the plot make you want to slow down and savour it. It is written in the style of a story of the period and yet it has a freshness and energy that is rare in historical novels.
As you can probably tell I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it wholeheartedly as a personal read and as a choice for book groups.
Berwyn Peet 5/5
Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
Faber & Faber 9780571225194 hbk Jun 2016