Golden Hill - F. Spufford
As one reviewer put it - "The best 18th Century novel since the 18th Century". Think Henry Fielding and "Tom Jones". The main protagonist is a young man, Mr Smith, who arrives in New York harbour one evening after a long voyage from London. He rushes to a banker and presents a document that the banker has to honour for £1000. Why is he there; what are his credentials; can he be trusted? Mr Smith is a mystery and does nothing to dispel suspicion. The book is wonderfully written in a very pacey, neo-18th Century style. The description of this developing colonial town, populated by English, Dutch and slaves is splendidly done. The political stuggle between colony and crown, the flowing in and out of trade and a rag-tag collection of characters, some honest and others definitley not, make for a vibrant backdrop to the novel. It's a book to savour both for the quality of the writing and the uniquess of its setting.