Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

New York in 1746 is a small town of 7,000 people, perched at the end of Manahatta Island, a place which  English and Dutch influences vie: the Bowery is still the Bouwerij, Brooklyn is still Breuckelen. Here a young Englishman, Mr. Smith, arrives bearing a promissory note for £1,000 – an impossible sum of money. He is…

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

It’s appropriate, given Mark Helprin’s discursive, meandering narrative in Winter’s Tale, that I came to his book in an unexpected, roundabout way. Hearing The Waterboys’ song Beverly Penn for the first time on a CD of out-takes from the This Is The Sea album, I investigated (okay, Googled) what the title referred to and found the…

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

‘In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five and you would have to believe it.’ It is clearly facile and even rather childish to make any comparison between George Orwell’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four and the rise of Donald Trump. But it is also fun, so let’s give it a go. Many liberal handwringers…