Moving away from Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared. Their new home is even lovelier than the one they left behind, and best of all – right on their doorstep – are some of the finest craftsmen from all over Europe, prepared to make for her and the other officers’ wives living in this small community anything they could possibly desire: new curtains from the finest silks, furniture designed to the most exacting specifications, execute a fresco or a mural even. The looming presence of the nearby prison camp – lying just beyond a patch of forest – is the only blot to mar what is otherwise an idyllic life in Buchenwald. Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, has taken up a powerful new position as camp administrator. The job is all-consuming as he wrestles with corruption that is rife at every level, inadequate supplies, and a sewerage system under ever-growing strain as the prison population continues to rise.
Frau Hahn’s obliviousness is challenged when she is forced into an unlikely alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber. A decade earlier he invented a machine – the Sympathetic Vitaliser – that at the time he believed could cure cancer. Does the machine work? Whether it does or not, it might yet save a life.
“Chidgey is a gifted writer, and in this, her confident, commanding prose and vivid atmospherics hold the attention.”—The Guardian (on The Transformation)
“A story out of Edgar Allan Poe, with the requisite revelations about human nature, obsession, and sexuality.”—Miami Herald (on The Transformation)
“Chidgey experiments with and opens up new structural territory for what contemporary fiction might be. Readers should be prepared to be challenged; equally, they should be prepared to be thrilled.”—New Zealand Herald (on The Beat of the Pendulum)
“A remarkable book with a stunningly original twist.”—The Times (on The Wish Child)
Catherine Chidgey is an award-winning and bestselling New Zealand novelist and short-story writer. Her first novel, In a Fishbone Church, won the Betty Trask Award, and was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Golden Deeds was Time Out’s book of the year, a Best Book in the LA Times Book Review and a Notable Book in the New York Times Book Review. Her fourth novel, The Wish Child, was published in 2016 and won the 2017 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, the country’s richest literary prize.