Posts Tagged ‘The Carousel Carver’


Carousel in Seaside Heights by Paul Goldfinger ©. Undated. Note the intricate details.



Seaside Heights. By Paul Goldfinger. ©


Wurlitzer music “After the Ball.”


Interview with author Perdita Buchan by Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net


Perdita Buchan has published books before, both fiction and nonfiction, but this historic novel is special for reasons with local interest including a setting in a town patterned after  Ocean Grove called Riverbeach.  Elements of the story include the Great Auditorium, a huge hurricane, the tent village and the Choir Festival.

Perdita has been interested in carousels for years, and her research allowed her to feature a group of immigrant wood carvers from Italy, Germany, and  Eastern Europe who mostly worked on carousels in America, but in Europe they often carved religious figures for churches and synagogues.

The technical discussions in the book regarding the carvers are fascinating, for example, the interior horses are less intricate than the ones on the outside, and different carvers had specialties such as the ones which carved exotic animals and did their research by going to the zoo and sketching.  Others specialized in painting the horses in great detail, with bright colors.

The book features Giacinto, who came from Italy in 1912.  He became a carousel carver in Philadelphia when those horses were in great demand. His experiences spanned the years of great immigration in America, and his life tells that story of transition and adjustment.

In the novel, Giacinto moves to the Jersey Shore in 1939 where he becomes the caregiver for an 8 year old orphan Gypsy girl.

Most shore towns had such carousels, including Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, but they are gone now.  Their popularity waned after the Great Depression.  There was a resurgence of interest in the 1970’s as folk art.

There has been an effort to find the Asbury horses and bring them home.  The Asbury Carousel House remains, but contains no carousel now.  Now only two Jersey shore towns have authentic carousels, including Seaside Heights and Ocean City.  In Seaside Heights they had two, but only one was hand carved, and that one survives but is not currently on display.

According to the book review by Nelson Johnson, “The Carousel Carver vividly recreates the world of the immigrant carvers—from the inspiration found in fiery horses big cats and children’s laughter to the clatter, sawdust and politics of Philadelphia’s bustling multicultural workshops.”

Shelley Brown, another OG author, reviewed Perdita’s book for Amazon and said, “Readers who admire exceptional writing are bound to admire this book.”  She says , “It is difficult to convey the authentic  humanity of the wonderful characters, and the delicacy of their interactions.”

Perdita will have an “author event’ on September 21, 2019, from 3-4  pm at Booktowne, 171 Main Street, Manasquan, New Jersey.  The book can be purchased at the Comfort Zone in Ocean Grove.

As a resident of Ocean Grove for nearly 20 years, Perdita has enjoyed her historic cottage on the south-side of the Grove.

She wound up here after emigrating from England as a child and then living in Florence, Italy, Vermont , Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and New York City. She has been a writing teacher for many years and she has worked in publishing.

We met over at the Odyssey Coffee Shop on Main Avenue. where she usually goes for good coffee.  She likes the idea of more “culture” in town, so she was thrilled when the Odyssey opened followed by Balzac. In addition to her books, she has written short stories and essays which have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, House Beautiful, and the New York Times.

Perdita is always writing, and she works at it when she is not entertaining grand children.

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