Pandora, 51, childless, and still beautiful, is attempting to come to terms with her husband's death. Having a history of being drawn to the esoteric, yet remaining a healthy sceptic, she reluctantly attends an evening of clairvoyance and raises a spirit who sets her on a new path…
Transforming Pandora is Book One in the Pandora Series. The full series is: Transforming Pandora - Pandora Series - Book One - pISBN 9781780997452 - Roundfire - 2013; Squaring Circles - Pandora Series - Book Two -pISBN 9781782797050 - Roundfire - 2014; Pandora's Gift - Pandora Series - Book Three - pISBN 9781785351754 - Roundfire - 2015.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
I received Transforming Pandora after winning it in a giveaway on Goodreads. With the book I received a lovely card, bookmark & note inside the book. Very nice touch. I just got around to reading it & have totally fallen in love with the style of writing & the characters. I will definitely be ordering the 2nd book. I also left a review on Amazon & Goodreads. It was such a unique style of book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. ~ Danielle, Goodreads
When you read the blurb for Transforming Pandora, you can be forgiven for thinking that it is going to be a spiritual ‘New Age’ story of someone ‘finding themselves’, but that is not really what it is. Yes there is a spiritual element to this book, but it is just the icing on the cake, so to speak, of a wonderful tale of love lost and found.
The story begins with the middle aged Pandora, newly widowed, trying with great difficulty to come to terms with the loss of her husband, Mike. However, she finds help in the form of Enoch, a sort of angel, who appears to her and sets her off on her spiritual journey. The author very cleverly incorporates a number of views on the subject of spirituality by making not just Pandora, but also other characters, sceptical and almost mocking at times. Pandora herself is such a likeable character, grounded, but so unsure of herself at the same time. Through the book, she reminisces about her life as she tries to work out what Enoch is ‘saying to her’ so we are transported back to the 70’s and the young Pandora tells us the tale of the two great loves of her life, her late husband Mike and her first husband, the rock star Jay.
Transforming Pandora is full of colourful, lively, interesting characters and Pandora’s mother is probably the most eclectic of all of them. She is a wonderful mixture of flower child/New Age Spiritualist who changes her men like she changes her clothes and gives a richness and vibrancy to the whole book.
This is beautiful love story with a good mix of sadness, fun, laughter and deep-rooted love with the words flowing effortlessly off the page in the author’s easy writing style.
Well worth reading. ~ Sarah Houldcroft, Authors Uncovered
Finding it hard to come to terms with her husband’s sudden death, Pandora visits a spiritual church where she is given a message encouraging her to meditate. Pandora finds that during meditation she can communicate with a wise old spirit, and with spirit awakening in her, she reflects back on her life in the past, to lead her to move forward with her life in the present.
This is just one of those really beautiful, touching and delightful stories, that draws you in from the very beginning and keeps you enchanted until the very end. Pandora is a fifty-one year old woman, who is at a crossroad in her life, and she gets guidance from a divine being. However, what is wonderful about this book is that the spiritual side is only touched on very briefly, allowing the plot to flow around Pandora’s life, telling a remarkable tale about life and love. ~ Nikki Bywater, Nikki's Books4U blog
'Transforming Pandora' was like meeting an old friend on a long train journey. "Pandora! How are you? What have you been up to all these years?" A few hours - decades - later I realised I had listened seamlessly to a bright voice lighting up a life in which nothing so very outlandish has happened but hills and vales of personal growth have been determinedly traversed. Pandora is engagingly open to help from mysterious sources - her chats with a guru who first appears as a gentle flame somewhere near the ceiling are both humorous and impeccably polite. Pandora has that narrative voice which, like Jane Eyre's or Cassandra's in Dodie Smith's 'I Capture the Castle' genuinely seems to care whether we are enjoying her account. She doesn't call us 'Dear Reader' but I do feel she knows we're there. Not least among the reasons for this is Carolyn Mathews's expert light touch with her language and lucid style. 'Transforming Pandora' is storytelling, not madcap diary-writing or quirky chick, and Pandora earns herself lasting friends. ~ Jessica Moss, Amazon
Pandora is 51 and newly widowed. Unsure of where she wants to go in this new phase of life, she applies for a part-time job at the Cool Cake Boutique. Working with the flamboyant Olivier lifts her spirits and allows her the opportunity to re-open her own business, The Cedars. But as Pandora revisits the meditation practice she had abandoned before her marriage, she finds a surprise waiting for her.
Over the course of this story, Pandora spends time reflecting on her memories going back to the very first time she met her husband, Mike. But there is so much more she needs to look at, and she explores all the most important events from her past. She’s aware that her past decisions have led her to where she is today, and now she needs to make a choice about how she wants to live the rest of her life. Pandora is lonely and still searching for love. But at her age, is it too late?
When a woman suddenly finds herself alone in midlife, she may be confused by conflicting thoughts and feelings. In this story, we see how Pandora is able to create her new life out of the ashes and move in the direction she truly wants to go. Well-written and engaging, Transforming Pandora is an enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.
~ Alice Berger, Berger Book Reviews
This is not the type of book I would normally choose to read as I am not one for the supernatural, spiritual or psychic world. However, having met Carolyn at a literary festival, I decided to read the book. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it, although I remain sceptical about the supernatural. I found I kept wanting to return to the book to find out what was going to happen next - always the sign of a good read - and as I am just a little older than Pandora enjoyed revisiting the 60's and 70's when earlier aspects of Pandora's life were explored. Definitely a recommended read. ~ Polly, Amazon
We meet Pandora at a crossroad in her life. Mike, her first love and second husband, has just died from a heart attack and she is feeling overwhelmed with grief. He was the love of her life, her soul mate: Now she is questioning how she can go on without him.
Fascinating, interesting, introspective and well written, this could be your story or someone else’s, but regardless, it is a story about coming of age, at whatever age that maybe!
Her former employee talks her into attending a service at a spiritualist chapel where it would seem the voice of Mike was channelled, telling her he had not suffered and that he loved her.
Pandora takes all this with a grain of salt but towards the end of the evening the essence of a Higher Power comes through to Pandora, who lets her know that she must return to her meditation and she will eventually be able to connect with him. He turns out to be Enoch.
As she returns home after the evening she begins to reflect on her life to date: on the various people and relationships she has known who go to make up her past.
The story winds along as life often does with people coming in and out of Pandora’s life for many and differing reasons. She hears her first husband Jay’s wife has died and decides to contact him with her commiserations which, as things tend to do in Pandora’s story lead onto further revelations on her past, which makes an interesting addition to her transformation.
As with all things in life, particularly Pandora’s nothing happens without a purpose, especially when you have someone like Enoch leading you towards your ultimate destiny.
A great read. ~ Ian Banks, Blue Wolf Reviews
A girl named Pandora will attract suitors (and nicknames) like a flower attracts honeybees…but in her secret heart, she will be waiting for the right one to arrive…or return.
The Pandora of this charming coming-of and being-of age novel is English, impulsive, and looking for love. Her first try at it is Mike, whom she meets as a gawky, virginal schoolgirl. But Mike is not so pure as she, and throws her over for a steady girlfriend who is pregnant with his child. But that was then (1970) and this is now (2003), when we see that Pandora has grown into a rather wonderful 50-something widow, having finally married Mike a couple years previously, only to lose him to a sudden heart attack. Convinced by a friend to attend a séance, Pandora believes Mike may be trying to contact her; she begins to tune in to a spiritual presence named Enoch whose messages open her mind to supernormal realities as she tries to recover from grief by taking a normal job in a large, successful bakery.
Through her job she meets Zac, a healthy specimen just a bit her junior, who seems as though he might be Mr. Right. But Enoch has different ideas. Prompting her to take a mail-order course in self-awareness, Enoch shows Pandora that she has more unfinished business of the romantic sort than she had imagined. It is Jay who keeps returning to her now more receptive mind. Jay was a flash in the pan rock star to whom she was married for a few tempestuous drug-splattered years. She left him in fury after he impregnated another woman (repeating the sins of her former sweetheart and proving to Pandora for once and for all that, sadly, she couldn’t have children). Learning that Jay’s other woman recently died, and feeling empathic because of her own loss, Pandora decides to contact Jay. Just a phone call.
Deftly orchestrated by debut English novelist, Carolyn Mathews, Transforming Pandora whizzes back and forth from the mad English rock scene of the 1970s to the sedate early 2000s, from Pandora’s rocky relationship with her flamboyant mother and her rock solid reunion with Mike, from England to Spain, to Pandora’s mournful half-life at her substantial manor, The Cedars, which she reluctantly lets out to her bakery boss for workshops and then to Zac as a film set, promising financial security. Through the self-awareness course, and the natural course of the remembrance of things past, and her forays into the ethers of the universal now, Pandora emerges into a new life phase that will force her to make a crucial choice between a new spark and an old flame.
Written with intelligence and pizazz, this book will entertain female readers with its especially honest view of the insights and insecurities of a woman in her middle years trying to find the middle way.
~ Barbara Bamberger Scott, www.awomanswrite.com
This book is truly difficult to put down, once you begin reading this finely-told story. The author fully develops likeable characters, while shifting back and forth from a woman's adolescent and young adult years, to her early 50's. Most importantly, however, is the transformation of Pandora. Like many women in today's world, Pandora struggles with parents, love relationships, belief systems, career choices, and friendships. Many of her choices caused her great sadness and pain. The transformation is a spiritual one, and begins when she accepts a special invitation from a loving Spirit - even though she had many doubts. A wonderfully written novel, with a spiritual message for all - it doesn't get any better than this!! I highly recommend this book - it will make you laugh, cry, and think about the special invitations you have received - and what can happen when you say "yes." ~ Deborah K. Lloyd, Author of 'Believe and It Is True'
Charming novel blends romance with spirituality. Carolyn Mathews' story of love, loss, and spiritual transformation is a moving romance novel that balances both themes to create a delightful, insightful read. Mathews is a talented writer, adroitly balancing the emotional and spiritual themes that drive this multi-layered metaphysical romance. A rich cast of characters supplement the basic love story and keep the plot moving. In addition, Mathews does an excellent job keeping the reader on track as we time travel between Pandora's loves and losses. Whether you're looking for romance or spiritual guidance, this well-written novel of love and rebirth satisfies both. ~ P J Swanwick, Fiction For A New Age
The author has created a well defined, interesting and ikeable protagonist in Pandora. The novel is filled with charismatic characters. The novel travels seamlessly between Pandora's past and the year 2004. This is the story of a life and it is worth reading. I hope that in the future there is a sequel to this book. I received this book free of charge through LibraryThing and I give this 4-star review of my own free will. ~ Samantha100, Library Thing
This is a skilful blending of the spiritual and the temporal. Split between the early noughties and the 70s, this book charts the thrills and spills of a woman on a quest. She thinks she's looking for love, but ends up finding more than she bargained for. I look forward to reading more of Pandora's exploits in the future. ~ Harriet Wilson, Author of 'Into The Darkness' and 'The Eyes of Beelzebub'
I love this book. It is a must read. Carolyn Mathews has written a book that is enlightening and inspiring. 'Transforming Pandora' is replete with thought-provoking observations about the human condition and identity. Carolyn's skilful use of flashback, her deft and humorous use of language and the unexpected twists and turns add to the book's realism and further draws the reader into the story. I finished it weeks ago and I still find myself going over different parts. Carolyn's enthusiasm leaps out of the page at you.
This book is well worth a read. It will make you think and may awaken you............ ~ Eva1921, Amazon
Carolyn Mathews makes Pandora's path to peace and happiness seem simple, though does not suggest it is necessarily easy. Her art and charm is in the enthralling tale of Pandora's life, with its conflict of girlish uncertainty and strong convictions - from the time of her discovery of lust in her sixth form convent school days to her methods of coping with the death of her husband.
I was not put off by the spiritual elements but fascinated by how certain themes are common to a variety of religious thought. There are some wonderful, endearing touches - the way we behaved with girl friends at school; the frugal weekend packing due to the prospect of dragging the case on the underground; the creepy bloke next door, knocking on various pretexts. These observations remind us of our own experiences and stun us with the revelation that others know about them too.
The publisher's postscript claims that 'Roundfire Books put simply, publish great stories...once you pick them up you won't want to put them down.' They were justified in choosing to publish this compelling novel. ~ Joan Drummond, Freelance web editor: The Enfield Circuit Methodist Churches & St Mary-at-Hill Anglican Church, Billingsgate
There's never a dull moment in 'Transforming Pandora', the prose flowing effortlessly in line with the action. The characters who populate Pandora's world are interesting and quirky. Her flighty mother, Frankie, her charming boss, Olivier, and her errant ex-husband, Jay, are my personal favourites. With a light touch, the author incorporates different aspects of spirituality into the narrative in an original way. I found the insights that unfolded during the heroine's spiritual odyssey, to be profound and moving. This is an enjoyably different novel and one I recommend. ~ Marianne Holland, Herts Library Book Club
A well-written, thought-provoking book which can be read on different levels and which kept me turning the pages long after I should have been asleep.
I loved the young Pandora Fry. Carolyn Mathews captures perfectly that mixture of the girl and the woman she will become and she has a skill rare among authors in that she can show development without making it obvious. The story cuts nimbly back and forth between the 70s and 2003 - in lesser hands this could have been confusing but Carolyn invokes the 70s without too many references to flared trousers or the politics of the time. It's great stuff and I enjoyed it. ~ Sue Magee, Editor/reviewer, thebookbag.co.uk
'Transforming Pandora' is engaging, meticulously observed, gracefully written, bubbly and touching. ~ Joseph Laredo, Translator of 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, Penguin Modern Classics
'Transforming Pandora' is a novel full of the things life is made of - awkward moments of young adulthood, the trials and triumphs of our closest relationships and romantic love, and how the past and present often move more fluidly together than we realize. The author writes beautifully and humorously, appealing to all of the reader's senses.
It also entertains with Pandora's experiences on the spiritual path of investigation: Buddhism, angels, meditation, automatic writing, even ascended beings, ready to guide with their wisdom. I couldn't help but be pulled into Pandora's metaphysical awakening, tempered by the realism of her healthy skepticism along the way.
Pandora survives her bumpy ride by tuning in to supernatural advice: "The key to happiness is to bring balance into the way you view the ups and downs of life. Choose to see the positive in every situation as it arises".
This is a story about learning to forgive and love ourselves, make different choices, and share our message with others. ~ Dielle Ciesco, Author of 'The Unknown Mother: A Magical Walk With The Goddess of Sound'
Well-written and engaging, Transforming Pandora is an enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.
~ Alice Berger, Berger Book Reviews
Showcased by The People's Book Prize 2014 ~ The People's Book Prize
This charming novel blends romance with spirituality. Carolyn Mathews is a talented writer, adroitly balancing the emotional and spiritual themes that drive this multi-layered metaphysical romance. A rich cast of characters supplement the basic love story and keep the plot moving. Whether you're looking for romance or spiritual guidance, this well-written novel of love and rebirth satisfies both. ~ P J Swanwick, Fiction For A New Age
Carolyn writes with humour and warmth, conveying a real sense of time and place. The conversational, confessional, and just a bit barmy voice of the narrator manages to successfully incorporate the spiritual theme into the practical, down to earth, human world she inhabits - even for a sceptic like me! Her inventive and accomplished use of language and assured handling of the different elements of the story, make for a great read.
~ Lois Keith, Editor of the prize winning anthology, Mustn't Grumble, Writing by Disabled Women and author of novels A Different Life and Out of Place.