Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York
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Scribner 2017
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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 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). 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 is "immensely pleasurable...Read it for Spufford's brilliant storytelling, pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, and gift for re-creating a vanished time" (New York Newsday).
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Street Date:
06/27/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781501163890
ASIN:
B01M4QECC2
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      • bioText: 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.
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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...
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title
Golden Hill
fullDescription
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 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). 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 is "immensely pleasurable...Read it for Spufford's brilliant storytelling, pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, and gift for re-creating a vanished time" (New York Newsday).
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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        April 10, 2017
        Spufford’s first novel is set in colonial New York City, where—as new arrival from London Richard Smith discovers—things can get out of hand quickly, and often do. As soon as his ship docks on Allhallows 1746, Smith heads to merchant Gregory Lovell’s Golden Hill home to cash a large bill of credit. Despite Smith’s refusal to divulge exactly who he is or how he intends to use the money, Lovell gives him a variety of currency and coin and introduces the young man to his daughters, lovely Flora and sharp-tongued Tabitha. For two months rumors fly, as Smith exchanges flirtatious jibes with Tabitha, cautiously converses with the slave Zephyra, drinks coffee with the governor’s secretary, is rescued from a Guy Fawkes Day brawl by the secretary and the slave Achilles, dines with the governor, plays whist with the chief justice, languishes in debtor’s prison, performs in a stage play, gets caught trysting with the play’s full-figured star, fights a duel, and stands trial for murder. On Christmas Day, Smith finally reveals his high-minded purpose for coming to America. Recounting this picaresque tale with serious undertones, Spufford adeptly captures 18th-century commercial practices and linguistic peculiarities as well as pre-Revolutionary Manhattan’s cultural hodgepodge. His New York bursts with energy, danger, and potential. His ironic, sometimes bawdy sense of humor and coy storytelling may frustrate those who do not “cotton” to the “cant,” but patient readers are rewarded with a feast of language, character, local color, and historical detail.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from April 15, 2017
        This sparkling first novel sends a young man through a gantlet of troubles and amusements in 18th-century Manhattan.Within minutes of deboarding from the brig Henrietta in New York harbor, anno Domini 1746, Richard Smith seems to attract trouble. First the 24-year-old Londoner presents a local merchant named Lovell with a bill demanding 1,000 pounds sterling. It's a huge sum for the time, and Smith's sharp tongue does little to smooth the transaction. Next day, his purse is stolen, and that night, invited to dine with the merchant, Smith is rude to his hosts and nettles the merchant's daughter Tabitha. Among other things, he abets her sister's taste in novels ("pabulum for the easily pleased"). Before the week is out he is mistaken for a papist and pursued by a drunken mob in a marvelous chase scene through Manhattan's much fewer mean streets. His rescuer that night, Septimus Oakeshott, secretary to the governor, will unwittingly embroil Smith in the city's chief political dispute. Spufford (Unapologetic, 2013, etc.), who writes in the Fielding-esque style of the period and displays a sure hand thereto, packs so many surprises into this sprightly picaresque that an extended precis would be full of spoiling answers to such queries as: why does Tabitha limp? Why do Smith and Septimus duel? Is it because of their dark secrets? Why is Smith really in New York? And who is the narrative's "true" author? Spufford suggests in an afterword that he was aiming for "a colonial counterpart to Joseph Andrews," but there's a touch here also of the Ian Fleming books that he warmly recalls in his autobiographical The Child That Books Built (2002). A first-rate entertainment with a rich historical feel and some delightful twists.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from April 15, 2017

        In 1746, a man named Smith arrives in New York City, population 7,000, in his hand, a bill for 1,000 pounds payable in New York. No one can vouch for him, and he won't explain why he needs so much money. Why should New Yorkers trust him? Smith is forced to wait 60 days for the arrival of a ship from London to verify the transfer. Thus starts this wild adventure, in the rarest of commodities, the modern-day picaresque novel: the trickster or innocent wandering through the world, digging beneath convention to unearth hidden truths about how we behave toward one another. By the novel's end, Smith has escaped lynching, lingered in prison waiting for the noose, fought a duel, and been caught in congress with--well, someone. Along the way, there is an unorthodox courtship with a young woman who gives back to Smith as much as he gives to her. VERDICT Nonfiction author Spufford (Unapologetic) makes his fiction debut with this successful homage to the great master of the picaresque novel, Henry Fielding. Winner of the Costa First Novel Award, it's sure to have a wide readership. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/16.]--David Keymer, Modesto, CA

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
A Novel of Old New York
popularity
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