Nature. Myth. History. Love. Gothic undertones. All of my favourite story elements wrapped up in one book?! It’s almost as if Perdita was written for me! The story opens with Garth Hellyer, a professor who does work for the Longevity Project by interviewing some of the oldest living people on the planet. Unfortunately, nothing has prepared Garth for Marged Brice, who claims to be a stunningly youthful 134 years old. Convinced to read through Marged’s journals of her life in the late 1890s, Garth quickly becomes enthralled by her story of love and loss growing up in the wilderness of the Bruce Peninsula. Throughout the course of the story, a strange and haunting figure named Perdita makes an appearance, testing everything Garth has ever known about life and the world around him.
Hands down my favourite aspect of Perdita was getting to read Marged’s journals along with Garth. I was absolutely entranced by Marged’s story! Her relationship with a handsome painter named George had me desperately turning the pages to find out if they would end up together. All of the characters that arose throughout Marged’s journal entries were both fascinating and mysterious. I just fell in love with everything about Marged! While the ending of Marged’s story left me with my mouth hanging open and a lot of unanswered questions, it was brilliantly written and well thought out.
Aspects of Perdita have been compared to Jane Eyre and the works of Austen by other readers, and I would have to agree. The landscape and characters that Marged interacts with do exude the same feeling as one of Bronte’s novels. While I was reading Perdita, however, another comparison popped into my head, that of Rebecca, the gothic classic by Daphne DuMaurier. Marged’s connection with nature and her interaction with the supernatural reminded me of Mrs. de Winter as she tries to unravel the secrets of Manderley. Needless to say, lovers of these classics will certainly enjoy Hilary Scharper’s writing.
The novel’s setting in the Bruce Peninsula along the Georgian Bay make this the perfect read for the cottage this summer. As readers delve into the myth surrounding Perdita, they might just glance the figure of a ghostly child watching them from the water. The intricacies of the story would also make Perdita a great book club choice, as the ending of the novel leaves plenty of room for interpretation and discussion. In short, Perdita is an awesome read that you should definitely add to your to-read list!