The Transformation by Catherine Chidgey Online

The Transformation
Title : The Transformation
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780676976977
Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320

From the writer described as “the most fabulous New Zealand writer alive” (Listener NZ) comes a masterful novel, with the power of Patrick Suskind’s Perfume.Tampa Bay, Florida, in 1898 is a frontier, where the progress of the modern world has not yet won the battle against the voodoo magic of the swamps, but where miracles of transformation are still possible. Dominating tFrom the writer described as “the most fabulous New Zealand writer alive” (Listener NZ) comes a masterful novel, with the power of Patrick Suskind’s Perfume.Tampa Bay, Florida, in 1898 is a frontier, where the progress of the modern world has not yet won the battle against the voodoo magic of the swamps, but where miracles of transformation are still possible. Dominating the town is the new Tampa Bay Hotel, with its tangle of Moorish minarets, Byzantine domes and new electric lighting, designed by Edison himself — a fairytale castle that is a winter magnet for the best sort of people — bankers and industrialists, stock brokers and shipping merchants, attorneys and architects and celebrities — who come from the northern cities and Europe.But the hotel does have one permanent year-round resident: Monsieur Lucien Goulet III is the exotic wigmaker to the rich and glamorous, and indeed to any resident of Tampa whose desire for the transformations he creates is keen enough to meet his price. Goulet himself is entranced by the head of hair belonging to the young widow Marion Unger. And as the raw material he needs to complete his great masterpiece becomes harder to come by, so he drives his gifted night-scavenger — a teenage Cuban cigar-maker — to increasingly extreme efforts.As this unlikely cast of characters becomes entwined, the secret depths of Goulet’s nature rise to the surface, leading to an electrifying conclusion.From the Hardcover edition.


The Transformation Reviews

  • Jenny Macdonald

    What a delightful book.Set in Tampa, Florida in the 1890's it charts the story of a wig maker, a beautiful widow and a young Cuban refugee cigar roller. A strange mixture indeed and the author cleverly weaves the story around them in the voice of the wig maker. A deceitful,unpleasant man, besotted with Marion the widow with the stunning white hair whose obsession to make a gorgous hairpiece, indeed a transformation, for her allows nothing to stand in his way. Set against the backdrop of America' [...]

  • Tena

    Well. I will never look at hair in the same way again.

  • Margaryta

    I'm always thrilled when I come across quirky books like "The Transformation", which feel like they're much more than their genres, instead pushing boundaries. I was worried the synopsis, which drew me to the book in the first place, would end up being too similar to Suskind's "Perfume", though after finishing I can say that it was quite misleading, and similar only in the most general of ways. The novel's charm and perfection lies in the way it balances setting and general world-building with t [...]

  • Ro Hart

    I have just read The Wish Child by this author and wanted to read another of her books.This was a great story. Set in Tampa Florida in the late 1800's. The Americans were invading Cuba to get rid of the Spanish and The railway had just reached Tampa.The 3 protagonists were a young Cuban boy working in a cigar factory, a hair artist and an orange farmers wife. Interesting and captured the place and time very well, only problem were too many words. But nevertheless I highly recommend this book.

  • Janice

    I started out reading this book quite enthusiastically. However as it went on, my interest in it dwindled. I got about half way through and wanted to give up entirely but persisted until the end.

  • Lisa

    Wow- what an interesting and intriguing book, especially all the things one never though of regarding people wearing wigs back in the 1800's. Really enjoyed (even the creepy bits)!

  • Mariana Mahood

    A not of knowledge about wigs and America in that era but the plot was very boring.

  • David Wyatt

    Will start by saying that this is a book that is not for someone who requires action in every page, or someone that needs extensive dialogue to satisfy their reading requirements. It’s a highly descriptive book, narrated in several different forms, but mainly through the eyes of three people. The wig-maker Lucien Goulet III, widow Marion Unger who’s flowing white blond hair Lucien obsesses over and a 15 year old Cuban immigrant cigar roller Rafael Mendez. An unlikely trio it seems.At first I [...]

  • Daisy

    I admit. I was intrigued by the cover. And I wasn't disappointed so much as.justading it thought there were.a lot of.een everything.The premise: turn of the 20th century Tampa houses many Cuban refugees who spend their days rolling cigars and hoping that America will engage Spain in war (which they eventually did), thus emptying Cuba of its occupiers. Enter: the wig-maker, a curious and mentally imbalanced soul who does strange things to find the hair he needs to supply the rich and vain with th [...]

  • Sammy

    Um yeah I don't know much about wigs, and I don't know a lot of people who do. If you're really into wigs, than you'll really like this book if you're not into wigs and don't know much about them, you might enjoy this book, but you'll have a bit of a struggle reading it.This book is really weird, but in all honesty it's pretty good. I think what makes it so weird is that it's really powered by Mr. Goulet who is a friggin' psycho by the end of the book. I mean, as the book progresses, you begin t [...]

  • Michelle

    An egotistical wig-maker with a shady past arrives in Florida in 1898 and goes about charming the men and women in the social scene. He, a young widow and a even younger cigar maker paths are soon entangled. Sounds fairly appealing - right? However, it didn't pan out. The author mentions important events in two of the three characters' lives in an off-hand way while droning on and on about minutiae of the central character. About half way through I started skimming it to just see how it ended. W [...]

  • Kathleen Dixon

    I really enjoyed this novel by another NZ author who was new to me. The women in the Reading Seals had done a lot more reading of NZ authors, and so it was excellent (for many other reasons, too) being in this group. This novel weaves together the lives of a widow Marion Unger, a perruquier Monsieur Goulet (a wig-maker from France) and a Cuban youth, Rafael. I found it fascinating. Some of the group didn't like the way that 2 of the people were narrated in the 1st person and the other wasn't. Th [...]

  • Diane Warrington

    Well this was definitely weird. It was a little bit hard to follow in places as one character gets a first person voice and the other two; a widow and a Cuban refugee, are in the third person. This book has been compared to the novel Perfume. However, even though the main character in Perfume becomes terrifying in his pursuit of the ultimate perfume, the wig maker in here just felt like an unpleasant psychopath to me. I was most intrigued by the Widow's story. And the idea of the importance of h [...]

  • Anne

    I never would have imagined there was so much to be said about hair. That said, this book paints a historically accurate picture of Tampa Florida in 1898 - 1899 told mostly from the perspective Monsieur Lucien Goulet III, an unbalanced, narcissistic man, certainly a sociopath, probably a psychopath who makes wigs for the rich and famous of Tampa. Hair is his fetish. Not a fast-paced book but hard to abandon once started.

  • Susie

    very strange protagonist who was hard to like. Set in the late 1800's it told a story that made no real sense. Sort of creepy but I still kept reading. I was intrigued that it was written by NZ female authur. didn't really give it 5 stars but I am not sure how to work this website yet. I Give it 3 stars,

  • sisterimapoet

    A great read. It reminded me a lot of Suskind's 'Perfume'. I loved the character of the wig-maker and looked forward to joining him in the sections he narrated. I loved getting a view into his unusual profession.Good pace, good selection of characters. Thumbs up for my second Chidgey read.

  • Jenna

    I was very conflicted about this book. Liked parts and suffered through others. I wish I could give it a 2.5. The historical parts about Tampa were interesting, while some of the bodies when walking through the everglades parts were a bit disturbing.

  • Stina

    Historically this book was fascinating because it's all about the settling of Tampa, FL in the 1890s. I love all the details about what it was like way back in the jungle era of Florida. However, I found the plot to be rather dull and anticlimatic.

  • Marty

    Creepy, but strangely compelling. Of the three main characters, Marion bored me, I liked Rafael, and Goulet freaked my shit out and was like a car accident I couldn't look away from. Also, I'm not sure I bought the Jack revelation.

  • Therése

    i whole-heartedly embrace my two star rating here. i almost regret reading this book. some good points, however. the characters were enjoyable, at least complete, and the beginning was a good read, the first part of the novel a lot of empathizing with the character.

  • Jest

    Brilliantly researched. Chidgey creates a very evocative sense of Florida in 1898. It also contains a lot of obscure information about wig-making. I am enjoying it tremendously.

  • Patti

    A very good story that explores a different time and place. Anti climatic ending. I wished for something a little more dramatic. I guess I'm used to Hollywood endings !

  • Renee Jones

    A beautifully written historical imagination of olde times Florida, enveloping an intriguing story.

  • Pam

    rec 11/06 via pbs

  • Marianne

    I really wanted to like this book more! It was interesting and the characters were complex, but I just couldn't get into it as deeply as I would have liked.

  • Angelica Melendez

    Well written, semi gothic, historical backgrounds and mysticism and a crazy antagonist that is only equaled by the lead in Perfume.

  • Harvie

    Strange and oddly compelling story of Tampa at the turn of the last century.

  • Samantha Leighanne

    To see a full review of this book, visit my blog at leighanneslit/201

  • Jenn

    Historical drama. A meticulously researched, dark story about Tampa in the 1890s.

  • Deborah

    Kind of creepy but interesting read set in late 19th century Tampa.