Book Review: Perdita
By: Hilary Scharper
Published By: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Page Count: 448
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Historical Fiction, Fantasy
I know it’s traditional to start a book review with a brief synopsis of the story line, but I have to be honest and say that it’s eluding me a little bit. Despite the teaser on the back, Perdita isn’t really about whether Marged is truly 134 years old or whether Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project will believe her. The story is about the characters’ relations to place (the Bruce Peninsula) and about what it means to discover a “great love.”
The structure of Perdita is an inside-out nesting doll of three stories. I say inside-out because the story in the middle, Marged’s story (told through diary entries), is the largest portion of the book. The next layer, Garth’s story, is considerably smaller. The framing story is so small that I totally missed it until the very end of the book which came as a surprise to me.
Perdita is very much a character-driven novel, with one of the main characters being the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Scharper’s characterization of the setting is spectacular. After reading this book, I feel like I know its windswept, rocky shorelines, waving grasses and groves of tall pines almost as well as I know the suburban neighborhood I grew up in. I imagine that for someone who had *actually* been there, reading this book would be a delicious homecoming.
Although I enjoyed most of the characters, Marged as a young woman bothered me a bit. She is supposed to be more attached to the land and to nature than she was to other people, which is fine. But Marged was so oblivious to the feelings of other characters at times, that it made her seem at times either totally self-absorbed or not very bright.
The other trouble I had with the book was toward the end, when a couple of characters are discussing the nature of love. The tone is very different from the rest of the book and snapped me out of the story – I felt like it had turned into a bit of a philosophy lecture.
This book would be a good fit for those who enjoy literary fiction, pondering the nature of love, and anyone familiar with Georgian Bay or the Bruce Peninsula area of Ontario.
In this haunting tale of past and present, Garth uncovers the secret to longevity, and the mystical power of love
On assignment to interview the oldest people on the planet, historian Garth Hellyer meets Marged Brice, a spirited woman who claims to be 134 years old. Upon their first meeting, Marged insists that she is ready to die, but the mysterious Perdita is keeping her alive. She entrusts Garth with her diary, which connects him to the early 1900s and to Perdita, a supernatural presence who gives the gift of love.
When Garth falls for the beautiful art historian Claire, Marged gives Perdita to him, but in order to be truly fulfilled, he must first make himself worthy of the gift...