The Essex Serpent: A Novel by Sarah PerryThe Essex Serpent: A Novel by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent: A Novel

bySarah Perry

Paperback | June 6, 2017

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Costa Book Award Finalist and the Waterstones (UK) Book of the Year 2016

"I loved this book. At once numinous, intimate and wise, The Essex Serpent is a marvelous novel about the workings of life, love and belief, about science and religion, secrets, mysteries, and the complicated and unexpected shifts of the human heart—and it contains some of the most beautiful evocations of place and landscape I’ve ever read. It is so good its pages seem lit from within. As soon as I’d finished it I started reading it again."—Helen MacDonald, author of H is for Hawk

An exquisitely talented young British author makes her American debut with this rapturously acclaimed historical novel, set in late nineteenth-century England, about an intellectually minded young widow, a pious vicar, and a rumored mythical serpent that explores questions about science and religion, skepticism, and faith, independence and love.

When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend.

While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief.

These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Hailed by Sarah Waters as "a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author," The Essex Serpent is "irresistible . . . you can feel the influences of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Hilary Mantel channeled by Perry in some sort of Victorian séance. This is the best new novel I’ve read in years" (Daily Telegraph, London).

Title:The Essex Serpent: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.2 inPublished:June 6, 2017Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062696270

ISBN - 13:9780062696274

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Reviews

Rated 1 out of 5 by from A bit of a disappoint On the surface this book had everything that interested me: a newly widowed Victorian woman, a mysterious monster lurking in the mists of coastal essex, and a beautiful front cover. Although I began the novel with excitement, I quickly learned that the story was better in theory than in practice. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it. It had everything I wanted! I should have enjoyed it! It was destined to be a favourite. But the writing was altogether bland and, despite trying really hard, I didn't seem to care about any of the characters. Stay away from this book.
Date published: 2017-09-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointed The book didn't get interesting until 200 some pages in, and even so there was no real climax or satisfying conclusion to the novel. In addition, the characters were fairly uninteresting, and the overall plot was rather overrated. The elements of mystery were lacking. I was disappointed because the novel sounded really interesting but in reality it was slow and underwhelming.
Date published: 2017-09-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A bit disappointed It was good, yes but not great. The storyline and setting were intriguing but slow and there was no climax or aspect to ponder about afterward. A bit disappointed, to be honest as it came highly recommended. The Wonder by Emma Donaghue is a much better example of compelling historical fiction, in my opinion.
Date published: 2017-04-25

Editorial Reviews

“Sarah Perry’s novel of 19th century England tackles big ideas...reversals and sharp darts of psychological insight combined with a sense of the substance and feeling of late 19th-century ideas in bloom make this a fine novel, both historical and otherwise.”