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The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

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Posts: 4219
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Post by Vanessa » Thu May 12th, 2016, 10:57 am

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

London 1893. When Cora Seaborne's husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife. Accompanied by her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need. When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter's vicar. Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other's lives in ways entirely unexpected.

My Review:

What a fabulously quirky and unusual book! Set in the Victorian era when scientific discoveries were being made and debates abounded, amateur naturalist Cora Seaborne, also a widow, moves to Aldwinter in Essex to further her studies. It is in the midst of village gossip about an enormous serpent which has supposedly returned to haunt the eerie Blackwater marshes. Cora meets the local vicar, William Ransome, and together they form a strange bond whilst trying to prove or disprove the mythical beast theory. This is mostly their story.

The Essex Serpent is impressive, entrancing and atmospheric, full of fascinating, interesting and well drawn characters. I particularly love Cora, she has quite a sense of humour. It is very much a character driven tale. It is beautifully written and extremely evocative of the era. The descriptions are so vivid that I almost felt I was there! The story deals with a variety of themes from science to religion to politics and to love in all its guises.

An engaging, captivating and absorbing read, which I enjoyed tremendously. I can highly recommend it, especially to historical fiction fans. This is the first book I have read by Sarah Perry and it won't be the last.

Many thanks to Lovereading.co.uk for giving me the opportunity to read and review The Essex Serpent, which will be published on 2 June 2016 in the UK.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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