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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award
Winner of the RSL Ondaatje Prize
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize
Named "Novel of the Year" by the UK'S Sunday Times

The spectacular first novel from acclaimed nonfiction author Francis Spufford follows the adventures of a mysterious young man in mid-18th century Manhattan, 30 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 listenable, Golden Hill is a story "taut with twists and turns" that "keeps you gripped until its tour-de-force conclusion" (The Times, London). 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.
©2017 Francis Spufford (P)2017 S&S Audio
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Critic Reviews

“Nothing short of a masterpiece.” ( The Guardian)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Jay Day on 08-05-17


This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

No one. The production was horrible The narrator couldn't keep her accents straight, using two different ones for the same character, she spoke way too fast as to be incomprehensible, and why use a female narrator when the vast majority of the characters are male? I think S&S was in a hurry and threw this together at the last minute.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Golden Hill?

The book is lovely but the only thing memorable about the audio was turning it off.

Would you be willing to try another one of Sarah Borges’s performances?

Yes. It's not her fault. The producer should be fired.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger at the producer and the publisher.

Any additional comments?

This is a terrific book and to have the audio be so awful is a real shame. The author and the narrator deserved better.

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15 of 18 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Sara on 12-01-17

So Much Potential But A Failure Of Execution

To me, the raves and accolades heaped upon this title really had my interest and expectations on high alert. But, I'm sorry to say, I started, paused and restarted several times hoping that it was me with the problem not the book. Then, I ran into a friend who had just finished the reading, and we found we were of the same unhappy mind. Since this encounter I've read some of the reviews here that further back up our joint opinion and I am giving up.

If I start with what I liked about the book--the deep dark sense of atmosphere Spufford created with the descriptions of life in Old New York--I'm afraid it leads directly to what I disliked. The problem for me was that the writing seemed to be all atmosphere and not enough storytelling. The plot wandered, sputtered and trailed off on multiple tangents and dead ends that fizzled. So much time was spent painting the picture or, really, setting the scene that the action couldn't or, truly, in this case didn't keep up. Anticlimactic probably says it best.

Borges' narration started out strong and then became increasingly halting and breathy with troublesome mispronunciations.

Disappointing and completely not for me.

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20 of 25 people found this review helpful

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