Golden Hill by Francis Spuffford

Golden Hill

Francis Spuffford

I took some time to come to terms with the period language and style, but found myself hooked about half way through. Poor Mr Smith seems to stumble from one desperate predicament to the next, though the book never becomes farcical, balancing the bawdy humour and horrifying misery on a fine line. New York in 1746 is recreated vividly - you feel yourself alongside Smith, and the story’s mysteries keep you tense and guessing until the very end.

He jumped out of the bed in his shirt and threw the casement wide - rooftops and bell towers greeted him; a jumble, not much elevated, of stepped Dutchwork eaves and ordinary English tile, with the greater eminences of churches poking through, steepled and cuppola’d, and behind a slow-swaying fretwork of masts; the whole prospect washed with, bright with, aglitter with, the water last night’s clouds had shed, and one - two - three - he counted ‘em - six crumbs of dazzling light hoisted high that must be the weathercocks of the city of New-York, riding golden in the hurrying levels of the sky where blue followed white followed blue.
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