Perdita was placed on my TBR sometime ago, certainly when it was first published. Sourcebooks is releasing the title in the US in January and asked if we would be interested in reading it. Well, of course, seeing as it was already earmarked to read. 😉
Before we get into the book however, I first want to bring attention to the two covers being used for Perdita:
This one here on the left is the version I read, and was the one released here in Canada. It is also the one I chose to feature in the “featured image” for this review. On this cover, we see a woman in historical dress, facing a lighthouse. All fine and good, as the story is indeed situated in the 1890s, with its setting on Georgian Bay in the Bruce Peninsula.
Now, the cover on the right, and the one that was pitched to us, and granted via Netgalley, is for its upcoming US release. However, after closing the pages of Perdita, and peering closer at this US cover, I cannot but feel they have terribly missed the mark. Or, I am fairly certain they knew nothing of the book and certainly nothing of the timeline in which it is situated. The back of the woman on this cover is frightfully modern in her dress and hair style. While the cover is actually quite eye-catching and mysterious, it greatly ignores the insides of the story and timeline it holds within.
“I could almost see her slim form and sweeping skirts silhouetted against the deepening hues of the night sky.” (pg 369, Garth imagining Marged Brice standing waiting for the boats 1898.)
Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’d be ready to go, if it weren’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…
Perdita is the very engaging story of Marged Brice, the 134 year old woman that Garth Hellyer is sent to investigate for the Longevity Project. Garth doesn’t believe for a moment that Marged is 134 years old, no matter if she has her birth certificate on hand to show. Marged also has her diaries to back up her claim and entrusts them to Garth to read, and then come back so she can answer any questions he may have about the diaries, and what they contain.
Much of the novel contains the pages of Marged’s journals and in those we read of her life with her father, her life on the island and her love for George Stewart, the artist. It does, albeit infrequently, move back to the present and gives just a little taste of Garth’s background – he was married to Evienne who has now passed away. There is the girl that was a significant part of his past as well, his friend’s sister Clare and the feelings he has or is now developing for her. Garth and Clare are not a large part of the story however, and it is only in the final 50 pages or so where more attention is paid to them and the current timeline. Also, Perdita seems an odd choice for the title perhaps? I did not feel there was any focus or really any mention at all of Perdita until well into 80% of the book where then she truly rears her face, name and possible identity and what she means or is to Marged.
Although there are two stories featured here, Marged Brice and her diaries take over most of this tale, and while exceptionally engaging, the Garth storyline sits in the shadows and much of his story remains hidden. In the final pages the reader does begin to see how Garth’s life may actually be starting to parallel Marged’s. Yet, overall, Perdita is a very engaging read with much to love as it contains part historical fiction, part mystery, with a dash of the supernatural as well. I’m still left confused however about the importance of Perdita, as she is almost secondary to the story, there is hardly much mention of her and I did not feel her to be relevant to the overall mystery of Marged and the storyline with Marged, Dr. Reid and George Stewart. That small issue aside, Perdita is a wonderfully satisfying read and indeed was one I kept wanting to return to as Marged Brice led one very interesting life! 4 stars.