A superb read which I highly Thanks to Scribner for an ARC The year is 1746 when a young Englishman Richard Smith arrives in New York with a bill of exchange to the value of 1000 an enormous amount of money at the time He seeks out a trader by the name of Lovell on Golden Hill Street who has 60 days to honour the billExactly who Smith is and what his intentions are is unclear not ust to the inhabitants of New York but to us the readers however we re not privy to this information until the end of the book *The Mystery Compels The Reader Ever OnwardsWhilst Making Smith S *mystery compels the reader ever onwardsWhilst making Smith s we are also introduced to some extremely interesting characters among the social elite of Manhattan the mad the bad and the indifferent many of whom are suspicious of this young Englishman It s great fun to witness the scrapes that he manages to get himself into while he s waiting for his bill to be honoured but other than that I won t give away any spoilersThis book has a winning combination it s a great tale of adventure that displays humour alongside the bawdy and it also dips its fingers into the darker side of lifeThe author appears to have captured the flavour of eighteenth century New York particularly well with the sights sounds and smells escaping from the pages and the writing is simply exuisite rich as it is in historical detail A delightful and entertaining read Thank you to Netgalley Faber Faber for my wish for it copy for which I have given an honest unbiased review Having finished this book two months since and having perused a vast uantity of printed works in the interval recalling the story of Mr S and his adventures in New York in 1746 presents a considerable challenge Were I to rely solely on my recollection of the persons and events contained within the narrative this account had been ended before it begun I retained so little memory of it An obligation to reread the early chapters was therefore felt and having acted upon it memory deigned to return and alongside it came this annoying writing style which I will now renounce Francis Spufford being so much better a proponent of it than your humble scribeIt s interesting to reread the opening chapters of a book when you already know the ending What I noticed second time round was that Francis Spufford had Mr Smith so that was his name spend a lot of time and effort evading uestions in such a way that a huge web of secrecy and mystery immediately grows around him That s a strategy that works when the reader doesn t know what the mystery is about but when she does it seems like so much ado about nearly nothing On the other hand this reader spent longer second time round admiring the staging of the story rather than the mysterious hints There was a very beautiful scene near the beginning where some young women appear for the first time They are in a well furnished interior framed by a doorway all as perfect and still as a Vermeer painting That was really well done view spoiler hide spoiler There are many glowing reviews of this both in the press and on Goodreads and I really thought I would love this story I must admit that I found it less than interesting in spite of the secrecy surrounding Mr Smith s business in New York a robbery a sexual indiscretion and a duel It wasn t until the very end that I felt any emotional connection to what was happening and it ust wasn t soon enough for me to say this was a meaningful read for me I was intrigued a couple at times when we find out about Smith s grandfather being a slave and then in his budding relationship with Tabitha I loved the early descriptions of New York when Smith first arrives and is exploring his surroundings but later there were times when I felt bogged down by the very descriptive language I really was taken with what Smith had set out to do I ust wish I had known it sooner and that I knew what he did after he left Mixed feelings so I can t give it than three stars Thanks again to my buddy readers Esil and Diane I would have set this aside at halfway through if it wasn t for their companyI received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through Edelweiss A wonderful and surprising book indeed This is what a book should be full of unexpected tales and events up until the very end Sparkling challenging daring The fifth star or say o5 I rate this book 45 is lacking because I did at times find some of the reading of this book challenging But I say to everyone persist it is well worth the effort A great history tale in the beginning of New York s existence interesting to read how NY started out and of course the events surrounding the mysterious Mr SmithNo doubt this will be on. Is an update of eighteenth century picaresue novels by the likes of Henry Fielding and entertains us with its savage wit mystery charismatic protagonist and romantic storyline as it propels us toward a powerful revelation at the novel’s end “Intoxicating” The Financial Times and “as good a historical novel as you could read” The Times London Golden Hill shows us a city provokingly different from its later self; but subtly shadowed by the great icon to come and already a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself anew fall in love and find a world of trouble. Blunder upon blunder nothing but blunders half a hundred blunders45 stars Fantastic New York 1746 Population 7000 Loved this book Is it a comedy A tragedy A farce A mystery All of this and Mr Smith lands in New York and stirs up a veritable hornet s nest of trouble in the close knit communit Patience is a virtue they say and I have to say after reading the first half of this novel I was feeling very virtueous The first part sets the scene of a New York little than twenty years before the revolution and is extremely detailed Many many words but it does do the ob auainting the reader thoroughly and meticulously with the political factions the merchants the nationalities and the extreme *dislke of the French as well as the various religious affiliations and almost everything else one *of the French as well as the various religious affiliations and almost everything else one take the time to notice Had this not been a buddy read with Esil and Angela not sure I would have continued But I did and by books end was glad I didA man arrives Smith is his name and presents a paper worth 1000 lbs But who is he and what does he want At various times he is thought to be a con a criminal an actor or magician Then it clicked after the fifth chapter I didn t read anything about this book before starting except for a few reviews of my friends and I thought this was a straightforward historical As I kept reading I realized my perception was wrong this book reminded me of adventure stories of the past Tom Jones Moll Flanders and it changed my view of what I was reading It s very well written the details and descriptions place us firmly in time and place and oh boy does Smith get in some picadelloes one to the next Enjoyed his interplay with Tabitha the acerbic daughter of the merchant it gave this novel an additional twist Of course by books end all is made clear and it left me wondering f I would have made the same decision Tabitha didThe closest modern day book I can compare this too is The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins though this is wordier So I ended up enjoying this than I thought I would which is a peon to the authors talent though I still think the first half could have been a little less detailed and a little action filled As I said it takes patienceARC by publisher All 10 of my friends that read Golden Hill gave it stellar reviews with an average of 450 As a result I had high expectations from this novel especially because the blurb sounded to be exactly what I love about historical fiction Unfortunately it did not work for me as much as I wanted I enjoyed GH well enough to give it almost three stars but no However I can understand why other readers might love it than I did The most important aspect for me in a novel is the writing the voice of the author Unfortunately the author and I did not click in this one I was not impressed by the archaic writing not that I have a problem with that style in general the meandering narrative or by the humor I was impressed by the initial portrait of 1746 New York but later the descriptive passages included too much uninteresting filler and I could not concentrate Moreover I did not care about the characters They felt two dimensional and did not come alive on the pageAlthough I had moments of struggle I kept reading to find out the reason for the main character s travel to America After I impatiently pushed through almost the whole novel the big reveal was so underwhelming and already hinted at that I did not find my reading worthwhile I also did not care for the plot twist at the end as I felt it had no logical sense I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 5 What a surprise What started out as possibly a light hearted romp turned out to be a completely absorbing story of New York in 1746 thirty years before the Revolutionary War It is written in the language of the time with some simplification of heavy Dutch accents for the English language readers and I don t think I ever noticed a false note It sounds as if it was written thenThe narrator says at the end and it s not a spoiler that I who did
Not Know What Mr Smithknow what Mr Smith thinking lend my own spirit to set in motion a puppet of him Nonsense absurdity upon absurdity I find I can concoct the necessary passages by a winking charm by talking faster by a conjurer s distracting busywork Concoct is probably the right word It s a story with a hero who is uick witted charming but always on very thin ice and he does end up in some dire situations It s much of an adventure than I d suspectedRichard Smith is a young man who has sailed from London population over 700000 to New York population only 7000 with a bill for a thousand pounds H races from the boat 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 in “a first class period entertainment” The GuardianNew 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 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. ,
characters Ø eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ☆ Francis Spufford,
O the business house on Golden Hill Street to it *Needing Some Cash To Cover *some cash to cover accommodation and meals He has some money to but it will have to last him until the bill clears with London many weeks henceSociety doesn t know uite what to make of him If he is as the bill would suggest very wealthy then they want to wine and dine him But if he s a charlatan and he s so clever he could well be they don t want to make fools of themselvesMr Lovell is the man to whom Smith he s always called Smith presents his bill and Lovell lets Smith know he s suspicious But when prodded by one of his lovely daughters he invites Smith to dinner Come now come on now said Lovell with a grin that seemed from disuse in need of the oil can to ease the rusty motion of his aws Let s not let a poor beginning spoil matters This was a time when houses were staffed with slaves and the contrast was enormous between lavishly luxurious homes and draughty icy boarding house rooms for the whites and then even worse for the blacks MiserableWhen Smith is walking down the street someone was sweeping the last leaves and singing slow in an African tongue as if their heart had long ago broken and they were now rattling the pieces together desultorily in a bag Here is the coffeehouse where he breakfasted every I wish I liked Golden Hill than I did I am a tough customer when it comes to historical fiction especially books set prior to 1900 I don t like books that romanticize the past or books that imprint contemporary sensibilities on historical characters Golden Hill doesn t suffer from either of these flaws In fact it has a lot going for it It s extremely well written and it does a great ob giving life to to New York in the mid 1700s But the story didn t really hold my interest until the last 20% or so Young Mr Smith arrives in New York from London in 1754 It s not clear to anyone in New York society who he is why he s there and what his purpose is The mystery surrounding him uickly gets him into various kinds of trouble romantic financial political and legal This is a book with a lot of description action and repartee but to me none of it made Smith knowable or sympathetic until the very end when we learn about the reason for his trip At that point my reaction was to wish that I had known all along it would have made the story as it unfolded far interesting Instead throughout much of Golden Hill I found myself getting impatient and losing interest There are many enthusiastic reviews of Golden Hill and they are well deserved My dissenting rating is based on my reading experience which at times felt like work rather than on the uality of the writing historical context and overall plot Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy Thank you also to Diane and Angela for another excellent buddy read I think I may have given up on this one if we hadn t read it together Given the ending I m glad I persevered Francis Spufford has written a brilliant and cracking historical yarn for his fictional debut It is set in the New York of 1746 it has a population of 7ooo and whilst unlike the great city of today the seeds of its future are indisputably present An Englishman Richard Smith arrives in New York and on him he has a 1000 bill of exchange a veritable fortune at that time He is a man of mystery to the reader until the end of the book He is greeted with suspicion and uestions from the locals who is he Where did he get the money from What are his intentions Smith goes to Golden Hill Street to see the trader Lovell who has sixty days to make good on the bill Lovell is going to struggle to pay up and this novel is about what occurs in those sixty days to Smith Smith meets a wide range of wealthy Manhattonites who all know one another rather well and he goes high and low in his adventures He is a target for a number of women given his wealth as he is deemed a good prospect Smith finds himself falling in and out of love and encountering the good the mad the odd and the bad He finds himself on the roofs in duels and card games His relationship with Tabitha the daughter of Lovell has bite wit and humour There are numerous literary references to Shakespeare and other writers The tale is presented in the language of the eighteenth century which is easy to grasp The central mystery of who is Richard Smith is resolved at the endThere is plentiful humour some of it bawdy and comic touches which make this a thoroughly entertaining read but there is darkness too It has a complex plot and a narrative which never fails to grip the reader It is a story of race class slavery gender and sexuality This is. 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 reuires 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 himSet thirty years before the American Revolution author Francis Spufford captures an ancient iconography of New York not only in his depictions of the physical city and its diverse citizens currencies and costumes but also in the clever and pungent language of his prose Golden Hill.