Golden Hill, by Francis Spufford

Golden Hill

Golden Hill

Francis Spufford

Scribner 2017

321 pages

Earlier this summer, I got a copy of Golden Hill by Francis Spufford from an English friend. The book published in the UK last year and she said it was a fun read, historical fiction set in New York. I don’t read much historical fiction, but I love it when a friend suggests a book that I have never heard of, so I gave it a read. It was only when I enjoyed the book enough to read up on the author that I discovered this was a debut novel.

The book is set in 1746 and revolves around Mr. Smith a young man who has just arrived in New York from London. He has a bill for 1000 pounds and when Mr. Smith goes to cash it with a local merchant, he is told that he has to wait until another ship arrives from London to verify that this bill is real. Mr. Smith, who never reveals why he is in New York or what he plans to do with his money when he gets it, spends his time in wait with multiple wealthy New Yorkers, including Mr. Lovell, the man who wouldn’t cash the bill, and who has an attractive daughter who Mr. Smith flirts with.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story as it starts out slow, but picks up drama as Mr. Smith runs into trouble in his new home. But this is an entertaining read and also a look at 18th century New York City when the city only had 7000 residents and was provincial when compared with London.

Spufford lives in the UK and has published five non-fiction books. If you want to learn more about the book’s plot, The New Yorker also wrote about it.

Happy summer reading!




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