Monday, 26 December 2016

GOLDEN HILL by Francis Spufford

It is not every day that this blog can call a book “rollicking”. This however is that day. This book is an attempt by a contemporary author to recreate an 18th-century novel. I always love these kind of efforts, like recreating a dinosaur from a fragment in amber. It has a lovely recreation of this world.
Where the counting office had smelled of ink, smoke, charcoal and the sweat of men, this had the different savour of waxed wood, food, rosewater and tea leaves, with the suggestion of (what is common to both sexes) the necessary house
.

The protagonist travels from London to New York, and it’s interesting to see how tiny he finds the latter in comparison to the former. Is also fun to see coffee shops as much in fashion then as now:
When he had ate his fill, and proceeded from the urgent first cup and necessary second to the voluntary third which might be toyed with at leisure

It is interestingly contemporary in that SPOILER ALERT the plot turns on the attempt to buy slaves into freedom, and in that the woman the protagonist falls in love with turns him down. It’s unclear if this is because she is crazy.

It a fun book, but for my taste a little bit too full of the 18th century equivalent of car chases, with much running around on rooftops, and a couple of duels. It passed the time, but I must say I’ve almost already forgotten all about it.

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