This is the story of a woman who claims to be 134 years old.
Garth is interviewing people for his Longevity Project, when he comes across Marged, an old woman who is supposed to be very old but has no way to prove it except for some diaries she says she wrote when she was young. She tells Garth that the reason she has lived that long is Perdita, but who is Perdita?
Through the journals we get to know Marged when she was eighteen, in the late 1890s. She lived with her parents and other relatives in Georgian Bay, Canada, being her father and uncle the light keepers. The place was isolated during the winter, but when the spring came, lots of people from the cities spent several months in the Bay; there was George Stewart, a young painter that would become famous later for his paintings of the Bay, or doctor McTavish, a man whose secret love was ornithology and worked together with Marged in order to write a book about the birds of the Bay. The place is beautifully described throughout the entries of the journals and the reader can certainly feel Marged’s connection to the place where she lived.
Later, she moved to the city with her mother, who suffered from a stroke and the doctors thought she might benefit from a treatment in a specific clinic, and Marged begins to spend some time with her mother’s physician, Andrew Reid, until she has to make a decision which would change the rest of her life.
There are some things I like of the book and many others that didn’t work out that well. For a start, the pace of the book is irregular: nothing happens most of the time in the diaries, and sometimes the book has such amount of entries that when I got back to Garth’s part of the story, I didn’t even remember the names of the characters. There are also some parts that are not well developed and it seems that we never know what’s going on, for example, Marged’s relatives want her death but we have no idea why, and there is a dark character who almost rape Marged when she was young, but we don’t have any further news from him later on. And finally Perdita, the person who should have had a main role in the story, only appears at the end in a hurriedly fashion which made me wonder if that was just all.
Back into the positive of the book, I think that the diaries have been a great way to know the lives of Marged and her family in the astonishing scenery which is Georgian Bay, with all the difficulties that living in a place like this carried at that time, but surrounded by such beauty. I also liked the characters, especially doctor McTavish, who seemed to be a very kind man, and the explanation for Perdita, which includes a lost Greek legend (though it is explained very fast and at the very end).
For these reasons I’m not sure about whether to recommend this novel or not.
Keep calm and read in English: 1/20
Travel the world in books: 1/12 (Canada)
COYER challenge: 1st book