peteg's blog - noise - books - 2016 07 06 FrancisSpufford GoldenHill

Francis Spufford: Golden Hill. (2016)

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Kindle. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he'd released a novel about a month ago, apparently his first. It's a period piece: the setting is pre-revolutionary New-York, and this being a modern book, it also has a trailer on YouTube, set in current-day New York, with no mention of the quietened 99%. Richard Smith, amiable leading man, tries to keep his nose clean while waiting for his £1000 to clear, but falls afoul of gossip and ignorance of pre-existing machinations. Spufford uses this trouble to steer him around the town and set pieces of the time in extensively-researched sparkling prose. The overarching mystery is hinted at frequently, but it wasn't the only thing that kept me hooked right up to the end. Tabitha is similarly an interesting creation, somewhat hysterical but far from helpless.

I'm not big on historical fiction, at least of this less-than-didactic kind (compare with Red Plenty), but Spufford knows throughout what we're here for, and he is a master of not over-stuffing the turkey.

Steven Poole (who charges Neal Stephenson with overstuffing his turkeys). An interview at the Guardian. Lucille Turner is right, his writing is genius! Sophie Elmhirst. The lack of reviews from across the Atlantic makes me think it has yet to make it's U.S. debut.

Hoping (nay, expecting!) to extend the run of good reads, upon finishing this I rushed off to buy his Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin from Amazon.

2017-06-28: Dwight Garner.