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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 26 August 2018

"Golden Hill" by Francis Spufford

New York, 1746. 'Mr Smith' arrives from England and presents a bill for £1000 to the banking firm of Lovell, a considerable sum which the firm will struggle to pay. But he has to stay alive until Christmas Day to collect the money. Having had his wallet stolen he hasn't sufficient money to sustain himself till Christmas, let alone play the rich man, and he has to rely on appearance and credit. He has to escape over the rooftops from a murderous mob. Then there is doubt about whether the bill is a forgery and Smith a fraud, which is a hanging offence is proved. He also becomes a pawn in the politics between the Governor and the Chief Justice. This picaresque is rounded out with amateur dramatics, his love for a shrew, a sodomite and his slave, adultery in the baths, and a duel. Fantastic fun and some brilliant writing. We are truly immersed in the Georgian city.

Great lines
  • Someone was sweeping the long sleeves, 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.” (p 18)
  • I rise in the morning and it takes all the effort of which I am capable ... to stuff the building sack full of whim-whams, impulses and contradictions back behind my face, and turn myself out for the day as a plausible secretary again.” (p 30) 
  • She trembled, like a plum already fermenting, about to burst in a mess of juices.” (p 115)
  • You may be the kind of dog who bites because she is chained up.” (p 146)
  • I take it as a Maxim, that One must skate on, though the Ice be thin; skate as fast as may be, as if the Footing be secure, even if it proves not so.” (p 156)
  • He had plainly learned that cardinal rule of selling, that you should never linger after the bargain is struck.” (p 178)
  • The snow - this time falling in fat, tumbling clots, as if the stuffing of furniture were being tossed over the balconies of heaven.” (p 199)
  • The production had crossed the elusive but distinct line between the early stages of rehearsal, where the nature of the production is still to seek for, and experiments are welcome, and that later stage where the effort to be aimed for is essentially agreed.” (p 201)
  • You were therefore endeavoring I thought to stand tall under a low Ceiling.” (p 224)
  • Life is a mess of accident.” (p 245)
  • Beauty - and rage, and bitterness, and solitariness, and a very foul temper; but first of all, beauty. You make everything else in a room look dull. your face is more alive than anyone else's, to me. All the other faces are dirty windows, to me, smeared with chalk and street-spatter; yours is clear through, to the soul behind.” (p 283)

A swashbuckling historical romance distinguished by its brilliant descriptive writing and the fabulous authenticity of its prose. August 2018; 299 pages

Books reviewed in this blog which have the word 'Golden' in their title include:

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