Book Recommendation: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

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Book Recommendation: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford


Golden Hill (2016) by Francis Spufford, a work of historical fiction, provides an interesting story in the setting of New York when it was still a small town on the tip of Manhattan Island in 1746. Click on the links to learn more about the author and this novel.

Francis Spufford

Spufford began as a writer of non-fiction, though always with a strong element of story-telling. Among his early books are I May Be Some Time, The Child That Books Built, and Backroom Boys. He has also edited two volumes of polar literature. But beginning in 2010 with Red Plenty, which explored the Soviet Union around the time of Sputnik using a mixture of fiction and history, he has been drawing steadily closer and closer to writing novels, and after a slight detour into religious controversy with Unapologetic, arrived definitely at fiction in 2016 with Golden Hill. It won the Costa First Novel Award for 2017 and three other prizes, and was shortlisted for three more. His next book Light Perpetual, due February 2021, shifts from New York to London, and from the eighteenth century to the second half of the twentieth.

Spufford studied English at Cambridge University. He was a Royal Literary Fund fellow at Anglia Ruskin University from 2005 to 2007, and since 2008 has taught at Goldsmiths College in London, where he is Professor of Creative Writing. 


Goodreads Review: Golden Hill

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 counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: this is Mr. Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won't explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be 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?

As fast as a heist movie, as stuffed with incident as a whole shelf of conventional fiction, Golden Hill is both a novel about the 18th century, and itself a book cranked back to the novel's 18th century beginnings, when anything could happen on the page, and usually did, and a hero was not a hero unless he ran the frequent risk of being hanged.

This is Fielding's Tom Jones recast on Broadway - when Broadway was a tree-lined avenue two hundred yards long, with a fort at one end flying the Union Jack and a common at the other, grazed by cows.

Rich in language and historical perception, yet compulsively readable, Golden Hill has a plot that twists every chapter, and a puzzle at its heart that won't let go till the last paragraph of the last page.

Set a generation before the American Revolution, it paints an irresistible picture of a New York provokingly different from its later self: but subtly shadowed by the great city to come, and 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.


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Posted by

Roy Kelley, Associate Broker

Realty Group Referrals (Retired from RE/MAX Realty Group)

6 Montgomery Village Ave., Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Office:  301-258-7757 

Comments (18)

Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Roy. Will add this to my list. Presently reading a very long book, 996 pages, and making progress. Enjoy your day.

Dec 16, 2021 04:26 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Roy... another author I've not heard about. Thank you for these posts... I really enjoy them.

Dec 16, 2021 04:28 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

I hope you will read and enjoy this novel. 

Dec 16, 2021 05:29 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Good morning Roy,

I am so happy you brought your book series back.  Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. A

Dec 16, 2021 05:49 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

Sounds wonderful, i am so fascinated in History, and especially the Revolutionary Period.  Well, it is Friday-Eve, have a very productive Thursday, Thanks for a great post. bill 

Dec 16, 2021 06:55 AM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Another good book to add to the list. Enjoy!

Dec 16, 2021 07:37 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning Roy! Sounds like a fascinating read - especially for those who love history

Dec 16, 2021 07:38 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

"Golden Hill" by Francis Spufford sounds like a great read for bookworms, Roy.

Dec 16, 2021 08:45 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Roy, hadn't seen any book reviews in a while, thought you had stopped reading.

Dec 16, 2021 09:29 AM
Raymond Henson, eXp Realty
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

It sounds like a good book and the author sounds like a very interesting man.  Thank you for the recommendation.

Dec 16, 2021 09:55 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Roy,

Sounds great! Takes place a little later than "The island at the center of the world," by Russell Shorto, which I finished earlier this year.

Dec 20, 2021 08:03 PM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for your comments. It is always good to hear from you.

Dec 21, 2021 05:38 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Dorte Engel 

Dolores and I have read The Island at the Center of the World and Amsterday, A History of the World's Most liberal City by Russell Shorto.

Dec 21, 2021 05:40 AM
Dorte Engel

Ah, did not know of the second one. Gotta check it out in the future.

Dec 21, 2021 08:51 AM