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The Wish Child

A Novel

List Price: $16.95

January 21, 2020 | Paperback | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4, 384 pages | ISBN 9781640092679
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This international bestselling historical novel follows two children and a mysterious narrator as they navigate the falsehoods and wreckage of WW II Germany

Germany, 1939. As Germany’s hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, two children, Sieglinde and Erich, find temporary refuge in an abandoned theater amid the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city, people are talking of surrender. The days Sieglinde and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.

Watching over them is the wish child, the enigmatic narrator of their story. He sees what they see, he feels what they feel, yet his is a voice that comes from deep inside the ruins of a nation’s dream.

Winner of the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Awards

“A remarkable book with a stunningly original twist.” —The Times (London)

About Catherine Chidgey

CATHERINE CHIDGEY's debut novel, In a Fishbone Church, won the Betty Trask Prize, Best First Book in the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Southeast Asia and Pacific Region), and was long-listed for the Orange Prize. Her second novel, The Strength of the Sun, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Sunday Express (UK) called her third novel, The Transformation, "a highly original read, as beautiful as it is terrifying." Chidgey is the recipient of the 2017 Janet Frame Fiction Prize, and lives in Ngaruawahia, New Zealand.

Praise for The Wish Child

Winner of the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

“Telling a story of Nazi families in Hitler’s Germany without romanticizing atrocity, reenacting monstrosity, or sentimentalizing barbarity is a high–wire act, and Chidgey more than keeps her balance. She has given us a gorgeous book that speaks powerfully of things that cannot be said . . . In its disquieting meditation on fact and fiction, Chidgey has written a beautiful, unsettling narrative that reflects who we are now as much as who we were then.” —Maggie Trapp, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Fans of The Book Thief will be drawn to Catherine Chidgey’s haunting WWII novel, which is told from the perspective of a similarly unusual and omniscient narrator—though we won't spoil who . . . While The Wish Child fits squarely into historical fiction, its clever, multi–layered format distinguishes itself from the genre pack.” —Refinery29, One of the Best Books of October

“Chidgey's understated and poetic revelations of the banalities of day–to–day life under siege, as the German war effort fails, communicate the corrosive horrors of war . . . Chidgey's controlled revelation of the identity of her shadowy narrator gradually illuminates the true horrors endured by the rest of the characters in this devastating work.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Fiction based on fact can bring to life a place and time as no mere history can—in this case, Germany from 1939 to 1997, concentrating on the war years . . . This beautifully written, vivid picture of one of the darkest times in human history, already an international best–seller, also may serve as a cautionary tale for today.” —Booklist (starred review)

“The contrast of voices provides a detailed portrait of Siggi and Erich’s fractured lives. Fans of The Book Thief will enjoy Chidgey’s delicate and elegant novel.” —Publishers Weekly

“This is an absorbing story, intelligent and literary.” —Historical Novel Society

“A remarkable book with a stunningly original twist.” —The Times (London)

“Catherine Chidgey’s The Wish Child subtly examines territory unusual for a New Zealand writer with this original exploration of the edges of a much–written–about historic time. Exposing and celebrating the power of words—so dangerous they must be cut out or shredded, so magical they can be wondered at and conjured with—Chidgey also exposes the fragility and strength of humanity. Elegantly written, there is an innerness to the book’s narrative which gives it authenticity and even authority. The fey, mysterious voice of the Wish Child, and the very human voices and activities of the book’s other children, are compelling and memorable. You’ll be caught by surprise with its plumbing of depths and sudden moments of grace, beauty and light.” —Judge's Report, Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

“You breathe the beauty of this writing so deep it seems like you've called it up from within yourself ... the final revelation unveils a historical stain that leaves you reeling.” —Waikato Times

“An incredible piece of writing...takes us inside the minds of the children and their families with such tenderness, humanity and psychological astuteness that it creates an understanding of why they loved and followed Hitler.” —New Zealand Listener

“Compellingly gentle and of our 'must read' novelists. It is a book difficult to put down and deserving of more than one reading.” —Otago Daily Times (NZ)

“This novel is remarkable for its authenticity, this is a fiercely determined act of imagining... Heart–rending.” —North and South (NZ)

“A brilliant, brilliant novel ... a masterpiece.” —Nine to Noon, Radio NZ

“Haunting and deeply evocative ... something very special indeed. This is a meticulously crafted and superbly written novel ... breath–taking.” —Weekend (NZ)

“Right from the first sentences I was caught up in the exquisite lure of the writing: musical, clear, lovingly tended. Nothing seems forced ... I loved this book with its subterranean mysteries and spiky issues. I love the way, at this critical point in the world, when fundamental human values are violated, The Wish Child reminds us with grace and understated wisdom of a need to strive for universal good. I ached as I read. This novel is unmissable.” —Sunday Star–Times (NZ)

“Classically Chidgeyesque in its complexity, its velveteen language and its dash of stardust ... devastating power . . . There is longing and grief imprinted in its pages ... She entertains while she horrifies.” —Sunday (NZ)

“Chidgey is a wonderful writer and this is a complex, emotionally devastating tale threaded with golden strands of humour.” —The Dominion Post (NZ)

“An extraordinary novel, written not only with a real and close understanding of the history which it fictionalises ... a brilliant novel, with a cohesive and persuasive vision of human beings under stress, a subtle prose–style and a major grasp of things that really matter.” —Reid's Reader (NZ)

“Buy it. Read it. And re–read it.” —Takahe (NZ)

“Chidgey's writing has heart, humour and effortless style . . . every word, every idea and character, are carefully honed to perfection.” —Sunday Star–Times (NZ), Best Summer Reads

“A tour de force, a work of art, an insightful commentary on the horrors and pointlessness of war and violence, a love story ... so beautifully written that it hurts. ... gripping from start to finish ... one of the best novels I have read this year. Actually, maybe one of the best novels I have read, period.” — Booksellers NZ

“Stunning ... I highly, highly recommend it ... beautiful.” —Radio NZ, Best Books of 2016

“A remarkable book with a stunningly original twist. “ —The Times (NZ)

“A brilliant novel, with a cohesive and persuasive vision of human beings under stress, a subtle prose–style and a major grasp of things that really matter.” —Reid's Reader blog (NZ)

“I love this book... I love the way, at this critical point in the world, when fundamental human values are violated, The Wish Child reminds us with grace and understated wisdom of a need to strive for universal good. I ached as I read. This novel is unmissable.” —Stuff (NZ)

“ An intriguing read “ —Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

“I have no doubt that Catherine Chidgey's novel is a very important contribution to literature about this particular period in history, and I feel certain it will stand the test of time.” —Maggie Rainey–Smith, Landfall Review

Praise for The Transformation

Barnes and Noble Discover Pick

“Beautiful...Her previous novels were highly praised for their intelligence, their lucid prose and their characterization. Here she continues to demonstrate those strengths, but in very different territory.” —Times Literary Supplement

“A story out of Edgar Allan Poe, with the requisite revelations about human nature, obsession, and sexuality.” —Miami Herald

“Dreamlike...The Transformation is meticulously researched; its hardy physicality convinces as surely as its misty emotional landscape baffles and allures.” —St. Petersburg Times (US)

“From its opening chapter, Chidgey's atmospheric resurrection of a bygone time embedded in a bizarre but entrancing story is as irresistible as the pull of a rip current.” —Orlando Sentinel (US)

“Haunting...well researched and intriguing...suspenseful and surprising.” —Roanoke Times (US)

“Poignant...Incorporating her research with an organic touch, Chidgey constructs a tale as enchanting as the hotel rising from its Florida swamp.” —Publishers Weekly (US)

“Her third [novel] and best so far...Chidgey could tackle any subject and produce something wonderful from it. She has that gift of the imagination that finds metaphor, contiguity and paradox wherever she looks, and a seemingly innate feel for structuring events, times and historical detail to make one whole, satisfying narrative out of a myriad unexpected parts.” — New Zealand Herald

“A skilfully written, period–perfect, atmospheric thriller...[Chidgey] writes as convincingly of the way to roll a fine cigar as she does about how to weave a chignon, or set out an orange grove.” —The Gazette (Montreal)

“Like Neruda, Chidgey has a sensual imagination. The New Zealand moved by the look and heft of things.” —The Globe and Mail (Canada)

“Chidgey is a gifted writer, and in this, her confident, commanding prose and vivid atmospherics hold the attention.” —The Guardian (UK)

“Chidgey spins a horror story which, miraculously avoiding easy sensationalism, is both troubling and haunting.” —Sunday Times (UK)

“This really is a novel to get lost in.... A highly original read, as beautiful as it is terrifying, which manages to be riotously chilling without ever going over the top.” —Sunday Express (UK)

“Catherine Chidgey's The Transformation brings the last century bursting to life. Who knew Tampa was so fascinating? If you don't know Chidgey now, you soon will. The strength of this book ensures that.” —Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life

Praise for The Strength of the Sun

New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Los Angeles Times Book Review Book of the Year
Time Out Magazine Book of the Year

“A fascinating novel in which widely separated simultaneous events—a girl's disappearance, a scholar's leaving his wife—develop or discover connections in a sort of quantum–mechanics way that seems to explore the idea of connectedness itself.” —The New York Times (Notable Books of the Year)

“[Chidgey] has written an elegant, connect–the–dots novel, in which each step the characters make toward one another proves emotionally treacherous.” —The New Yorker

“Deftly, in almost painterly fashion, Chidgey arranges her images and themes in a balanced, aesthetically pleasing composition.... The Strength of the Sun is a beautifully crafted, often poignant work.” —Los Angeles Times

“In combination, the disparate elements of Chidgey's novel create a dense and multifaceted whole, an arresting portrait of a world where the past never disappears entirely, but keeps returning to us—however imperfectly—in countless small and unexpected ways.” —The New York Times

“If novels were attics, The Strength of the Sun would be a small but overstuffed one, the sort of place you could spend hours browsing in.... Fascinating...Every one of the objects she has gathered plays a role in her intricate narrative plan.” —Gary Krist, The New York Times Book Review

“[A] richly layered tale on a kaleidoscope of themes...Strength of the Sun shines brightly enough to make this worth a studied read.” —The Seattle Times

“Beautiful.” —The Baltimore Sun

“In this spellbinding take on 'six degrees of separation' Chidgey conducts a symphony of crossed destinies with sophistication and compassion. Intertwining several themes the distance between strangers, the intimacy of lovers, the endurance of memory she follows the fates of seemingly unconnected characters . . . Chidgey strings together her diverse characters and crisscrossing plot lines with deft economy, building a mesmerizing narrative that's capped by an ingenious twist. Chidgey's first novel, In a Fishbone Church, was nominated for the Orange Prize; this intensely imagined narrative should also win critical raves.” —Publishers Weekly

“This intriguing novel moves back and forth in time, and its ominous undertone shows how loss tends to frame a person's life. While some of the characters' backgrounds seem stereotypical, there are enough secrets and revelations to hold one's interest until the final pages. Strongly recommended to public libraries for both fiction and mystery fans.” —Library Journal

“A wonderful new talent.” —Nick Hornby, author of How to Be Good

Praise for In a Fishbone Church

Winner of the Adam Foundation Prize
Winner of the Betty Trask Award
Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best First Book,
Long–listed for the Orange Prize

“The prose is always light and concise – often beautiful too – and the wry ever present...Remarkably accomplished.” —Times Literary Supplement “It is funny. It is supremely touching. It knows magic.” —Evening Post

“The complexity of thought, beauty of imagery, and awareness of human nature, both young and old, revealed in this first novel is of great distinction.” —Sunday–Star Times

“It's lyrical and it's perfect. If I was to compare it with any other book, it would be with that other work of genius, Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum.” —Dominion

“Chidgey has a good ear for dialogue, a sharp eye for an arresting image and a wry sense of humour.” —Spectator (UK)

“Warm, wit, descriptive delicacy and understated emotional subtle as a breath.” —Time Out (UK)

“The action kaleidoscopes past and present in brilliant flashback and fast forward. Chidgey's strength is her fondness for these people and their worth, and her charm.” —Mail on Sunday (UK)

In a Fishbone Church enchanted me from the first to last page. An exceptional achievement.” —The Bookseller (UK)

“Chidgey's writing seduces the reader with its generous and unexpected humour, its incidental poetry and candid ear for dialogue...This is a rare novel, and a quiet and admirable achievement.” —The Australian's Review of Books

“Catherine Chidgey is a wonderful new talent, and In a Fishbone Church marks the beginning of what promises to be a glorious literary career.” —Nick Hornby, author of Funny Girl

“This book is warm, subtle and evocative. You will be thinking about it long after you have finished reading.” —Louis de Bernières, author of The Dust That Falls from Dreams

“Chidgey's maturity and lightness of touch would be admirable qualities in any novel; in a first book, they are remarkable...In a Fishbone Church is a wry, tender and absorbing first novel.” — Emily Perkins, author of The Forrests

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