New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan Island, 1746.
One evening, a handsome young stranger off the boat from England pitches up to a counting house on Golden Hill Street, with a compelling proposition - he has an order for 1,000 pounds in his pocket that he wishes to cash. But can he be trusted? New York is a place where a young man with a fast tongue can reinvent himself, fall in love, and find trouble....
While (as the book's ending will show -- no spoilers here) the decision to have the story read in a female American voice is logical, the actor chosen here is not an ideal choice, as she clearly has a much smaller personal vocabulary than the author. She constantly mis-stressed and mispronounced words (steepled, basso, Hades, concupiscence, mountebank), substituting more familiar ones in some places ('connection' for 'contention', 'slivers' for 'silvers', etc). Surely one of the jobs of those at Whole Book Audio should be to ensure that the performance represents the book accurately, otherwise one might as well get a free LibriVox recording. I have decided to write this review (something I rarely do) because I have noticed the same fault on too many of Whole Book Audio's other recordings, and they really need to improve this aspect of their business (the second narrator in David Mitchell's "The Bone Clocks" was a particularly egregious example).
"Golden Hill" is set in New York City of the early 18thC and includes a cast of characters with a variety of accents, some of which the reader executed more successfully than others, with her attempt at Scottish sounding very East European. "Golden Hill" also includes brilliant set-pieces of performance within the novel: a Sinterklaasavond feast, Bonfire Night ("Pope Night"), and the performance of a play. In the last of these, it is central to the plot that two of the characters are much better actors than the others, but the reader was unable to portray the differences between the terrible acting and the great acting, flattening them out to much of a muchness.
I've focused on the performance here because I found it detracted from my enjoyment of what, had I merely read it in my head, would have struck me as a well written, entertaining, and unusual story. Until a better recording is produced, I recommend buying the book and reading it yourself!
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
The entire premise of this novel surrounds the enigmatic Richard Smith who has turned up in New York in 1700s with £1,000, a huge sum at the time. The prose is elegant and rich, reminiscent of classic period dramas written by Edith Wharton, but mixes the plot of the Taming Of The Shrew with "The Guest" by Satyajit Ray. The ending is poignant when we discover his true purpose of the money and there are literally hundreds of twists throughout the novel. Beautifully written.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful
the result of.clearly deep research and nonetheless profoundly focussed on the characters. the author luxuriates in the minutiae of human reaction and inter-action. A masterpiece in its own way. and a revelation about 18th century New York.
Took a while to get into but I loved it . Great performance by narrator and gripping story
hated the audible version..heard written book is much more readable. suspect this is true. hard going but OK eventually
The narrator mangled the story..She mispronounced lots of words which became annoying especially in such a literary book. For example Colley Cibber was Poet laureate and the target of Pope's Dunciad so this would have been easy to check even if the narrator wasn't familiar with English Literature. She said his name several ways, all of them wrong. The producers should have checked that Borges understood what she was reading and she should have checked the pronunciation of unfamiliar words, even when these were quite simple like "wanly". Unfortunately it really spoilt it for me.
...but it just didn't quite work for me. It's been reccommended to me often as a match for many authors I like and mentioned in the same breath in reviews... but I found it rather slow and found myself muttering 'get on with it' towards the end of the book.
This isn't helped by the narration. As mentioned in many other reviews, there are strange pronunciations and even stranger accents. I found the 'african' ones particularly wearing. I'm left wondering if I'd have loved this book more if I'd read it rather than listened to it.
I feel rather let down - it's a long listen for something that for me never quite got going. That said, I was very gripped by a long bonfire night sequence. But much less so by the other set pieces (in particular the court scene had me wishing it would move more quickly).
Would you try another book written by Francis Spufford or narrated by Sarah Borges?
Yes - lively writing and an interesting time to read about.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The monster - really 'orrible
Would you be willing to try another one of Sarah Borges’s performances?
I enjoyed the narrator's voice but there were quite a few mispronunciations of words
Do you think Golden Hill needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
Not really - no spoilers but it's pretty complete
Any additional comments?
Good book -worth a go and keeps it's pace up nicely - I particularly liked the Tabitha character and the card game scene.
Great story wondefully narrated and smashing ending. Wonderful sould warmer and reminder of new world
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Brilliant book, brilliant reader; highly recommended. Moving, clever, original; what more could you wish for from a novel?
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Took a little bit to get into the book, but became thoroughly hooked.
Enjoyed the narration. Sarah did some credible accents.
I have recommended it to someone already, and I don't often do so.
Light and entertaining.