BOOK REVIEW: GOLDEN HILL by Francis Spufford

Golden Hill

Who is Mr Smith?  Is the question that everybody wants an answer to in GOLDEN HILL, even the reader.  We even have to wait to discover that his given name is Richard.  Not that you feel cheated about the withheld information, just page turningly curious to find out.

To begin at the beginning, Mr Smith arrives in colonial New York on a wet November day, he makes his way to Lovell and Company on Golden Hill Street and presents a bill of exchange for £1,000 payable in 60 days.  This is an enormous sum of money and to pay it out to an unknown young man would be foolhardy.  Now we sit and wait for those sixty days to pass and whilst we do the world of eighteenth century New York is brought vividly to life for us.

Mr Smith is pleased to discover that coffee houses have made it to the new world and we spend much time in them with him observing the political factions of a truly new New York.  He falls in love, gets chased by a mob, escapes over rooftops, is arrested twice, fights a duel, performs in a play and we still don’t know who he is.  Hints and a tiny bits of information are dropped along the way, enough for you to ponder.

All is revealed just before the end and very satisfying it is too.  Golden Hill is a joyous romp through colonial New York.  We see the city through the eyes of a newcomer and in doing so get immersed not only in the geography but also the politics of the place.  I suspect that Golden Hill will be in Top 10 books for 2017, why not read it and see if it will make your top ten too.

DISCLAIMER:  Faber and Faber sent me a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review, in the mean time Mr CW had bought me copy too!  Thank you everybody.

GOLDEN HILL by Francis Spufford
Published by Faber and Faber
Paperback £8.99, Kindle

British Books Challenge 2017



Sea, The Huntress

An email pinged into my inbox, “Would I like to read Sea, the first of  The Huntress trilogy by Sarah Driver?”.  My eldest son looked over my shoulder and declared that it looked like an interesting book and could he read it.  I told him yes on the condition that he wrote a review for Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays.   Over to Jake ……

Mouse lives with Sparrow her brother, grandmother and friends on the sailing trade ship called The Huntress in a land ruled by land and sea tribes.  Mouse is the next in line for captaincy of The Huntress after her Grandma dies as her mother is dead.  She looks after Sparrow, who suffers from shaking fits. One day her father goes missing and is presumed  to be dead when mysterious man is welcomed on to the boat holding her fathers bloodied cloak.  Mouse refuses to believe him and that night finds a message on the sail on the model of The Huntress that she and her father made together, it was not there the last time she looked.   The message tells her to find the three Storm Opals.  These magical stones when reunited with their crown will bring about the peace in all tribes.

Mouse’s first quest is on the Sea, magic is all around both good and evil.  Whilst all this is going on the friendly whales are under threat.  One day, when Sparrow has a fit many lives are put in danger, are his fits all tied up with the magic?

Overall this book had me captivated and I read it for hours on end wondering where it would take me next. With many excellent complex magical characters, no one felt linear or dull which helped me connect with many of the characters.   When I got to the end I was left wanting to know what was next for Mouse and if she could complete her task for peace.  I will be looking out for the next books in the trilogy.


Published by Egmont UK
Paperback £6.99, Kindle £4.31