The lives of a French wig maker, a young American widow, and a Cuban cigar maker intersect to startling effect in this masterful, atmospheric novel from Catherine Chidgey
Tampa, Florida, 1898: a hazy frontier where the Old World meets the New, where miracles of transformation are possible and the soil is so fertile that dry sticks take root and flower. Dominating the town is the new Tampa Bay Hotel, a fairy-tale castle that in the wintertime is a magnet for the finest sorts of people.
During the off-season, the city is quiet, but a few residents remain. Among these is a most exotic creature by the name of Monsieur Lucien Goulet III, wig maker to the wealthy and glamorous-indeed to any resident of Tampa whose desire for his transformations is keen enough to meet his price. As winter nears its end, Goulet is entranced by a head of hair belonging to the young widow Marion Unger. But this material, without which he absolutely cannot form his greatest masterpiece, is hard to come by, being still attached to its owner. Determined to go forward with the project, Goulet drives his gifted night scavenger--a teenage cigar maker who is a refugee from the war in Cuba--to increasingly extreme efforts.
As the lives of these three unlikely accomplices become ever more entwined, Goulet's true nature becomes disturbingly clear, leading to an electrifying conclusion.