The Essex Serpent : Now a major Apple TV series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston
Overall Book of the Year and Fiction Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2017 (Nibbies)
Longlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
The Waterstones Book of the Year 2016
Shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award
'One of the most memorable historical novels of the past decade' Sunday Times
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.
Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.
- Hardback | 432 pages
- 144 x 222 x 38mm | 575g
- 16 Jun 2016
- Profile Books Ltd
- Serpent's Tail
- London, United Kingdom
The Essex Serpent is shot through with such a vivid, lively sense of the period that it reads like Charles Dickens at his most accessible and fans of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell will also find much to love in this engaging, entertaining Gothic novel. -- Charlotte Heathcote * Daily Express * A novel of ideas, and flexes its muscles in addressing multiple concerns of the period ... The novel probes at both private emotion and public concerns, and is engrossing and immersive. The grime of London is only surpassed by the murk of Aldwinter. Cora makes for an indelible heroine: uncompromising, funny and smart, and not unlike Alma Whittaker in Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things. There will also be whispers of Dickens or a gamut of 19th century novels of similar size and scale, but Perry's voice and story are her own. Her language is exquisite, her characterisation finely tuned. Based on The Essex Serpent and its predecessor, it's clear that Perry is a gifted writer of immense ability. -- Sinead Gleeson * Irish Times * A Victorian-era gothic with a Dickensian focus on societal ills, Perry's second novel surprises in its wonderful freshness. There's a sense of Llareggub about close-knit Aldwinter, its flint church, historic oak and ribby shipwreck instantly present, while the tapestry of voices that results from the use of letters amplifies the Under Milk Wood echo. Perry's singular characters are drawn with a fondness that is both palpable and contagious, and the beautifully observed changing seasons permitted space to breathe, all making for pure pleasure. -- Stephanie Cross * Observer * An eerie tale of science and superstition ... gothically good. -- Eithne Farry * Sunday Express * It's 1893, and Cora Seabourne is a young widow whose husband's death has released her from a miserable marriage. Finally free to follow her own interest in natural history, Cora heads to Essex, hoping the recent reports of a mysterious ancient serpent may possibly turn out to be proof of a "living fossil . . . a species outwitting extinction". There she meets the local vicar, Will Ransome, and despite his scepticism about science and her lack of faith in religion, the two forge an unlikely bond. A bewitching and luminous book about science, faith and different kinds of love. -- Anna Carey * Irish Times * Gem after gem after gem ... the book is a mosaic of perfectly chosen words ... very special * Marian Keyes * Wonderfully written, full of riches ... Sarah Perry is a wonderful writer ... imagine Lair Of The White Worm rewritten by Marilynne Robinson * Tom Holland * The result is a novel that somehow embodies the exhilaration and ecstasies - of body and mind - its characters stumble into, suggesting not just the ferment of its times but something of the ferment of our own. And, no less impressively, it exults in the possibility that inheres in the liminal spaces that its titular serpent inhabits - between land and sea, old and new, even life and death. Agile, unconventional, wonderfully weightless, it is a delight. * The Australian * Confident, intelligent and original storytelling - I was seduced by the many charms of The Essex Serpent * Laline Paull, author of The Bees * I was completely enthralled -- Tracy Chevalier * Good Housekeeping * A beautifully written, warm and funny follow-up to After Me Comes the Flood -- Sally Magnusson * Sunday Herald * The book I loved this year... stunning [Books of the Year] -- Jenni Murray * Observer * This uplifting tale challenges its characters - and readers - to question first impressions. -- Catherine Kielthy * Breathe *
About Sarah Perry