Perdita by Hilary Scharper
ISBN: 9781492602446 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492602453 (ebook)
ASIN: B00M1UM7N0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Marged Brice is 134 years old.
She’d be ready to go, if it wasn’t for Perdita . . .
The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…
Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.
Everyone knows about death.
It’s life that’s much more mysterious…
As a historian Garth Hellyer has met people from all walks of life. One of the many things he does in his work with the Longevity Project is validating and confirming the ages of people over the age of one hundred. Garth enjoys the work and the people he meets, but Marged Brice is quite unlike anyone he’s ever met before. First of all she claims to be 134 years old and even produces a birth certificate to prove her age. Unfortunately that one piece of paper isn’t enough to confirm her age or identity. The only other thing she has to offer are her diaries . . . and Perdita.
Perdita is a story of the early 1890s and the present. Marged’s story is told via diaries written over the course of a few years in her young adult life. She writes of living with her father, mother, aunt and uncle, as well as her father and uncle’s job tending the lighthouse. Marged is an intelligent young woman and seems to be one with the wild nature she is surrounded by on the bay. She tutors the children of visiting summer families and works with one of Canada’s famed naturalists, Dr. McTeague. She also falls in love with a beloved Canadian artist, George Stewart, as well as with a physician, Dr. Andrew Reid. Her story is unusual only in that she has lived for so long. Garth’s story is the contemporary tale and is filled with his attempts to uncover the truth about Marged. Garth’s story is also about love and loss, just as much as Marged’s story. The final element in this story is Perdita. There are bits of the superstitious and paranormal woven into Marged’s story — ghosts in the graveyard and a ghostly presence at a séance, but these pale in comparison to Perdita. Is Perdita the ghost of a dead child? Is she the love-child of a Greek god? Or is she the figment of Marged’s imagination?
I enjoyed reading Perdita although I felt it dragged at times, namely in a few of Marged’s diary entries. Ms. Scharper has done an amazing job of creating images within this reader’s mind of the beauty and savagery of the Georgian Bay with her highly descriptive words. I liked getting to know about the daily duties of Marged’s life in the late 1890s. Perdita is not just a story within a story, but a story within a story within a story as the reader learns about Marged, Garth, and the lost tale of Perdita. Would the story have been the same without the supernatural presence of Perdita? Could Marged’s story have been as convincing without Perdita? Probably not. What I can say is that if you enjoy reading books that combine historical and contemporary storylines then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Perdita to read.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”