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Francis Spufford Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Red Plenty (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Golden Hill (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Francis Spufford is an English author born in 1964 and primarily known for writing non-fiction.

+Biography

Spufford was born to Professor Margaret Spufford and Professor Peter Spufford. Margaret was a social historian while Peter specialized in economic history. The nature of his parents’ scholarly backgrounds had a notable impact on the path Spufford chose to take.

As a non-fiction writer, Spufford has won awards for scientific, historical and political writing. The author, who boasts a degree in English literature which he acquired in 1985 from the University of Cambridge, prefers non-fiction but his style has such a strong element of story-telling.

In fact, many critics have suggested that Spufford spent his life essentially leading up to ‘Golden Hill’, his first true novel. The historical and political works he has produced over the decades have each boasted unexpectedly strong story-telling elements, with things having finally come to a head in ‘Red Plenty’.

The book, which looked at Sputnik and the Soviet Union, blends historical facts with fiction in a manner that Francis Spufford hadn’t experimented with before. The expectations surrounding Spufford’s exploration of the fiction arena have always been strong primarily because the author has written so widely, producing literary anthologies on history and even essays about technology.

The author has won prizes like the Writer’s Guild Award (Best Non-Fiction Book) and the Somerset Maugham Award. He has been shortlisted for the Aventis Prize and won the adoration of notable authors like Neil Gaiman.

A writing teacher at Goldsmiths College (and the University of London), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Francis Spufford has been known to attract controversy in some circles for his strong defense of Christianity.

A practicing Christian himself, Spufford is married to Reverend Doctor Jessica Martin.

+Golden Hill

Mr. Smith is a curious gentleman. Despite being so amiable and charming, the handsome young stranger insists on maintaining the aura of mystery surrounding his person when he steps off the boat one rainy evening in November.

1946 finds him in Golden Hill Street in New York, with a fortune in his pocket; a fortune whose purpose remains unclear. No one knows what to do with him. The merchants, in particular, do not know whether or not they can trust him enough to work with him.

The result is an explorative tale of New York in the 18th century. The story is fast moving, taking readers back to the beginning of a century where anything could happen. Francis Spufford’s language is rich. His historical knowledge shines through, the author’s unique writing style allowing the book to educate without growing too stale.

Anyone who thought Spufford couldn’t quite master the ability to tell a story, especially with his background as a non-fiction scholar, will be greatly surprised by Golden Hill. Every single chapter brings unexpected plot twists to bear. Spufford keeps readers intrigued by placing a puzzle at the center of his book, one that gives his story a spark and keeps the heart racing until the last word on the final page.

New York is painted in a provocative light. The glamor of the city as readers know it at the present is all but absent, replaced by something a little dirtier, grimy and uninviting. However, beneath all the shadows is the promise of the great city that will eventually manifest.

At the center of this whole tale is a young man whose tongue is a little too fast and whose intentions aren’t all too clear.

Spufford’s book will surprise many readers because it is his debut novel. Even knowing that Spufford has been writing books for decades, the mastery over storytelling that Spufford shows is unexpected.

His hero is a mysterious character called Mr. Smith who has a promissory note that he must redeem within sixty days. While in New York, Smith does everything possible to avoid conversations about his personal life.

Even the nature of his business in New York remains hidden. It is a difficult era and one’s personal matters have never been more important, especially when it comes to their politics and the parties they support.

Spufford has amazing dialogue; he makes every single character in this book that is given a voice sound like a delight. Golden Hill blends so many elements of literature, from mystery to tragedy and comedy, and the plot twist is well earned.

+Red Plenty

The USSR, oppressive as it became, was actually built on the concept of a planned economy that would bring forth untold riches and the sort of fortune that would eclipse the USSR’s capitalist rivals.

And strangely enough, this idea, this dream, did not sound so foolish, at least not in the earlier years where it seemed to deliver on so many of its promises. This Francis Spufford book looks at the late 1950s, those heady moments in history during which the USSR system thrived and manifested fruit.

With Nikita Khrushchev’s rash leadership, the Soviet Union was set to elicit envy from the capitalists of the world. It was a time of promise, where Moscow would eventually leave Manhattan in the dust and the Soviet Union Lada would put the supercars of Europe to shame.

For a brief moment, the tyrants of the Soviet Union had their happy ending, and Spufford uses this book to explore how that time came about and the manner in which it finally ended.

Readers flock to his book because it combines historical facts with fiction, which means it has the potential to entertain even those individuals with no interest whatsoever in history.

People who are worried that Francis Spufford might bore them with lectures on economics have nothing to fear. This book emphasizes the human side of the Soviet Union and the weaknesses that eventually drove it into the ground.

The Khrushchev years are a curious place to visit because that was when the Soviet Union was threatening to overtake the West in everything from science and industry to art and music.

There was a point where the Soviet Union could have outpaced their rivals. And Spufford doesn’t shy away from unveiling the weaknesses that halted that dream, though he isn’t unnecessarily harsh.

The author gives the human components of the Soviet Union a sympathetic personality, endeavoring to give their honorable ideals a voice.

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