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Jan 11, 2017 04:21 PM 1412 Views



Absolutely BRILLIANT historical fiction! WOW! Faye has and does it all: her language is fluid and melodious; her work's historical accuracy and her attention to detail are downright academic; the characters she creates are multi-dimensional and continue to grow throughout the novel; etc, etc.

The setting is early 19th century antebellum New York City. I've read a bunch of scholarly studies on the era and region, and was absolutely blown-away by all the accurate details Faye managed to explore: women's entrance into the workforce(and piece-work, that kept many off the streets but in constant poverty), racism and racial-based violence, political battles between the Democrats and the Whigs, 19th century medical practices, the formation of a police force and the conflict this caused, a lot more, and most of all, a quite believable portrait of what 19th century New York was like to live in.

I love, love, LOVE New York. It is my soul-city(after Paris of course). And I, as any reader probably, have often wondered what it would be like to have lived at some point past(or future?) - have been there, in fact, by reading. The Gods of Gotham is a complete immersion into a fully fleshed out, entirely plausible, compelling rendering of 19th century New York City. And it's absolutely fascinating, especially if you love that time period or the City: there are the rural locations east of 5th Ave, there are people in the streets pumping water, there are firemen brigades which basically rule the city like mafiosos(until the police force steps in, tentatively, during this period).

The novel is not perfect: it's definitely "genre" fiction - it follows all the plot rules, and Faye takes no creative license beyond her absolutely beautiful use of language. But, this language is almost too poetic: it's a strange thing for me to say, because I value that above almost all else as I read, but at times it was hard to believe that all cops, madams, spinsters, dock-workers, etc, spoke in such exalted tongues. Also, the mystery itself is not the most compelling, and the ending, as these things tend to, tries to "twist" one too many times, just for the sake of novelty.

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Gotham : A History Of New York City To 1898 - Edwin G Burrows