Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

golden hill

It’s 1746 in New York and a young man, fresh off the boat from England, rocks up to the door of Mr Lovell’s counting house in Golden Hill Street. He introduces himself as Mr Smith and produces what appears to be a note for one thousand pounds.  As you can imagine, this causes quite a stir and Mr Smith himself does nothing to lessen the suspicion with which he is greeted.  News of this mysterious young man spreads and so begins Mr Smith’s adventures in this young city.

This book is written in the style of a historical novel and yet it is eminently readable and quite often humorous (I particularly liked when the narrator abandoned trying to describe a card game on the grounds that it was too complicated!). The plot itself is a bit meandering but curiosity about Mr Smith and his motives made sure I finished it.  The ending was not at all what I expected but it was nonetheless thought-provoking and satisfying.

I think Golden Hill is a masterful piece of writing and a deserving winner of the 2016 Costa First Novel award.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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