The Transformation

Catherine Chidgey

23 August 2012
320 pages


Tampa, Florida, 1898: a frontier where the old world meets the new. Dominating the town is the new Tampa Bay Hotel, a fairy-tale castle by the water's edge, and a winter magnet for the rich and famous. But the hotel has one permanent resident, the enigmatic and exotic Monsieur Goulet III, amateur phrenologist and wig-maker to anyone with pockets deep enough.

As the winter of 1898 nears its end, Goulet becomes entranced by the spectacular silver-blonde hair of a beautiful young widow, Marion Unger, and determines that the transformation it inspires him to create will be his masterpiece. But the raw material he needs is hard to come by, and so he is driven to increasingly extreme efforts. As the fates of widow and wigmakerbecome ever more tightly entwined, Goulet's true nature begins to show itself, until it becomes clear that he will allow nothing to impede the progress of his ultimate transformation.

'Set in Tampa, Florida, in 1898, Chidgey evokes a world that is decadent, louche, colourful and verging on the gothic; a highly original read, and as beautiful as it is terrifying, this really is a novel to get lost in' Sunday Express

'Chidgey is a gifted writer, and her confident, commanding prose and vivid atmospherics hold the attention' Guardian