The Competition – a review of Perdita by Hilary Scharper

#3 Perdita by Mary Lawson
#3 Perdita by Mary Lawson

The Book:

Finally!  One I kinda liked!  I want my book to win, but this was an intriguing read overall.  I could see myself recommending this to other readers, though I haven’t decided exactly which readers!

It’s a classic Canadian novel, with turn-of-the-century struggles, set against the shores of the Georgian Bay peninsula.  Living in this area, I think the struggles of the geography  could have practically written themselves!  It made for a beautiful, contentious backdrop in Hilary Scharper’s debut novel (another first!)

Classified “Eco-Gothic”, I would have probably put it into the Historical Romance section, but hey:  what do I know?

It did read more like a romance with all the focus on her angst over George Stuart (yes, of Group of 7 fame, though I have no notion of how accurately he is portrayed, this is a work of fiction, after all)

Despite the title, Perdita’s presence is vague and infrequent during the entire story.  When we do finally meet her, the book is almost done and I no longer hold an interest in her.  Perdita, of Greek mythological origin, is perhaps an apt metaphor for the many faces of love the protagonist experiences.  However, to understand her connection and relevance to this story, she should have been slowly introduced throughout the narration, rather than the abrupt and major appearance in the last few pages.  It made her presence, or the fact the book is named after her, confusing and irrelevant – contrived, even.

Perdita’s relevance might have been better illustrated if Marged’s story could have been told by her, rather than Garth privately reading diaries.  Also, had there been less hint at the supernatural (because it wasn’t done well) it would have been a much better story.  This is coming from a supernatural enthusiast’s perspective.

The story is a mix of mystery, supernatural, historical fiction, romance, nautical disaster, and a sprinkle of Canadiana.  Certainly an unusual combination of elements and I didn’t feel they all worked.  However, the prose is readable, even with the change in style and diction in Marged’s diaries.

It was too much of a romance for my liking, though, the writing style in the journal sections is quite lovely.  The take-away message I got: our attachment to “home” is equal or greater than the bond we have with the people in our lives.

I also found Garth and Clare’s story to be unnecessary and horribly cliched. While I understand the author’s intention to draw parallels between the past and present, I felt it could have been more original given the imagination of the primary plot.

The Competition:

This book is set in our local region and that will create the biggest hurdle it offers to me winning.  I suspect the defender will appeal to our sense of loyalty to our home in order to win.  Therefore, it must be voted off!  I will vote it off third.

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