Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Betsy Burton, the co-owner of The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City.
You know the feeling of a long, difficult read? The book was good, you're glad you read it, but it was just hard to get through?
That's what Betsy Burton was feeling earlier this year: She needed a perfectly plotted palate cleanser. And she found it in "Golden Hill," a novel by Francis Spufford.
"I read the first page and it was just ah, I was so relieved, I was so happy. I could tell right then that it had a narrative that was going to grab me by the throat and not let me go," she said. "
The historical novel is set in 1746 New York.
"So the Revolution is due in 30 years. The characters don't know it's coming, but of course the reader does," Burton said.
The book opens with a young man jumping off a ship before it can even dock in the New York harbor, and swimming to shore so he can make it to a counting house — essentially a money lending firm — before it closes for the day.
He has a letter of credit for a thousand pounds, a fortune in 1746.
The owner of the firm is confronted with this mystery, and a risk. Should he honor the note? Even if it could sink the firm?
"Who is this guy? Is he for real? Who knows?" Burton remembered wondering about the main character. That's just where the action starts.
"There's a kind of an odd love story involved in this book. There's a real mystery about who our main character is. ... There's a boisterous, fun tone, underlain with all of this really interesting history. And a very literary writer who pulls this off with such panache that you cannot put the book down.
"I absolutely adored every page of it. When I finished it, I just wanted to turn it over and start again. It's the best read of the summer."