Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Spotlight, Guest Post, & Excerpt: Perdita by Hilary Scharper (with Giveaway!!!)

By Hilary Scharper
Sourcebooks Landmark
January 20, 2015
$16.99 Trade Paperback

“Stunning… richly complex and unpredictable.” —Historical Novel Review

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…

Why did you pick a lighthouse for the setting of your novel?

There is something almost "magical" about lighthouses.

One of my favorite writers, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) - author of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, The Body Snatchers - used scenes from lighthouses for his wonderful stories. 

Lighthouses are a symbol of not only welcome, but also a “civilized” society. They tell mariners through weather fair and foul that they are not alone—that people are close by, thinking of them and helping guide them to safety.

The oldest lighthouse was the one built at Alexandria, a great fire built atop a large tower at the mouth of the Nile, guiding ancient mariners to their destinations.

So lighthouses have something both wild and domestic about them. They pierce the darkness and shine across stormy waters, but they are also places of home: both home in the sense of coming safely into port, as well as places where lighthouse-keepers and their families settled in amidst the tempest-tossed world around them.
Cabot Head Lighthouse, northern Ontario, Canada, c. 1900.
When I first went to the Cabot Head lighthouse, I imagined what it was like when the first light-keepers of the late 18oos had to snake their way through a dark forest to get to the light station. The story of “Perdita” began to come to me as I reflected on this journey; and the characters took shape around the history of lighthouse-keepers, shipwrecks, the triumphs and setbacks experienced on this wild promontory overlooking Georgian Bay.

Tell us about the “Eco-Gothic.”

My husband, Stephen, hatched this term after he read a draft of “Perdita.”

The Eco-Gothic blends the mysterious, atmospheric and unpredictable genre the gothic assumes in such novels as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Rebecca, but adds something different.

It adds nature as a character, not simply as backdrop or setting. As readers can see in “Perdita,” Marged has a “real” relationship with the trees and the Bay. For her, they are not simply features of a landscape; rather, they are mysterious, mercurial presences, both befriending and bewitching Marged as she searches for love and truth at her lighthouse.
Nature as "character" in the Eco-Gothic. (Photo taken at the Cabot Lighthouse by author.)

More on the writing of “Perdita” at http://perditanovel.com/writing-with-the-wild/

**Buy Perdita now : Amazon | B&N | BAM |!ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Author: Hilary Scharper, who lives in Toronto, spent a decade as a lighthouse keeper on the Bruce Peninsula with her husband. She also is the author of a story collection, Dream Dresses, and God and Caesar at the Rio Grande (University of Minnesota Press) which won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. She received her Ph.D. from Yale and is currently Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.


Excerpt from Perdita:

Cape Prius—1897
July 3

Seven hours passed, and the waves were—Mr. Thompson said they were fifteen feet or more in front of the Lodge. The rain had not ceased, but the sky had turned an evil gray, and we heard thunder far off in the distance….

“The storm is moving fast,” said Mr. Thompson, and he shook his head glumly.

I began to pray fervently. It was but three o’clock in the afternoon, but the entire sky had turned a livid gray, and it seemed as if night had dropped upon us like a curtain falling. Now we could see lightning blaze across the horizon….

The rain came down in sheets, and the waves took on an even more ominous and angry aspect. My heart sank as I thought of the boats in that water.

Then—“There,” shouted Mr. Thompson, gesturing toward the eastern skyline.

And appearing suddenly from around the Point, we could see the outline of a large boat. Its foremast was rolling horribly—up and down, back and forth—and we could see, as it neared, that the first jib sheet was ripped to pieces. The mainsail was shredding rapidly in the wind, and the waves were pushing it toward the shore, where it would surely be smashed into pieces against the rocks. We saw the men lowering the lifeboats and then push off, desperately making for shore.

“Allan,” I cried. He had run out into the storm without warning toward the boats, and I leaped out after him.



3 signed copies of Perdita by Hilary Scharper (open December 15, 2014 – February 7, 2015) - US only.



  1. Kristin, thank you so much for hosting this wonderful giveaway. I will add it to the list of book giveaways on my blog. I am also a fan of lighthouses. They are quite beautiful and mysterious.

  2. This sounds like a great book! I wanted to enter the giveaway but you only have it open to twitter users. I will have to look for it in the bookstore, thanks.

  3. I'm with R. Hunt...why not more choices for those of us who don't twitter, coo, peep or gobble! Not good PR IMHO.

  4. Don't enter me as I've read this -- and loved it! -- in its first Canadian edition. I hope more people will pick it up now that it's available to you all as well in the US!


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I love interacting with other book lovers and appreciate any thoughts or feedback! If you read a book after seeing my review, please let me know. Come back and leave me a link to your review so I can read it. Thank you!!!

Blogger Template Created by pipdig