That author Hilary Scharper spent her childhood summers on the Bruce Peninsula in southern Ontario is clearly evident in her latest work, Perdita, an atmospheric combination of gothic love story, intriguing mystery and a heartfelt tribute to the natural world.
When journalist Garth Hellyer is introduced to Marged Brice as part of his work for the Longevity Project, which seeks to find the oldest living person in the world, he simply cannot believe what she and her birth certificate seem to be telling him, that Marged is, in fact, 134 years old. She also confesses that while she is more than ready to die, she cannot as long as ‘Perdita’s’ future remains in doubt.
Garth readily accepts Marged’s offer to read her diaries and, with the help of his neighbour and childhood friend Clare, is soon involved in uncovering a past filled with love, tragedy and the untamed beauty of their surroundings.
Whilst Scharper’s description is sometime a bit repetitive and her writing style isn’t always smooth as it might be (the use of the awkward name ‘Marged,’ for example, providing an unnecessary distraction), she nonetheless envelops the reader into her story as successfully as the fog of the Georgian Bay envelops the characters. Her discourse on Greek mythology and the possible origins of the name ‘Perdita’ is particularly interesting and provides an interesting construction around which the spirit of young Perdita can be woven. That this novel is the first of a planned trilogy clearly shows that Scharper believes Perdita still has more to say.