The Essex Serpent
The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry Pages: 418 Published: 2016
The book: London, 1893. Newly widowed, Cora Seaborne, decides that she and her son Francis might be better suited to life in the country than in London. So, they travel to the county of Essex.
There, she hears tales of a mythical serpent from the past that locals believe has returned to the coastal village of Aldwinter.
Cora, neither religious nor superstitious, is convinced that there is a logical explanation for the serpent; perhaps it is an undiscovered species? Intrigued, she sets out to Aldwinter to find the serpent.
There, she meets the married Vicar William Ransome. Despite different religious beliefs, they strike up an instant rapport.
Will Cora discover the serpent? What can account for the strange happenings in Aldwinter? Read on and find out.
You might like it because: It’s a wonderful story, beautifully written, stocked with lots of interesting characters, and many plot twists and turns. Perry does an excellent job of immersing the reader in 19th-century Britain.
What did other people say?
“Filled with wisdom about human behavior and motivations, and written in a distinctive, stylish prose, The Essex Serpent is one of the most memorable historical novels of the past decade” – The Sunday Times (U.K)
“Perry’s debut successfully creates an air of real eeriness and tension …the real pleasure here is her insightful and convincing depiction of family”– Lesley McDowell, The Glasgow Herald (Scotland)
Awards & Recognition:
The Waterstones Book Of The Year 2016 (U.K)
Shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award. (U.K)
How quickly will you get into the book? The first three pages really grabbed my attention. Then, the pace of the book slowed a little. Around about page 50 it picked up again, and from there I just kept reading to see what happened next.
You might not like it because: Whilst the Essex serpent is a constant fixture throughout the book, this is really a story about relationships between people and the nature of love. The truth about the serpent might feel like an anti-climax for some readers.
What might you read next?
The Essex Serpent begins in London. Read another book that also begins in London, albeit in a different time period: The Muse, by Jessie Burton.
Alternatively, read about a search for a different type of mysterious creature, The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett.
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