The Essex Serpent

Following her husband's death, Cora Seaborne leaves London in search of the dirt, earth, fossils, rocks and trees that once entertained her as a young girl. Her arrival in Essex coincides with growing rumors of the return of the Essex Serpent, a great beast living in the Blackwater that is said to claim human lives. A budding naturalist whose passions were squashed by her cruel husband, Cora sets off in search of the mythical beast, but finds instead a local parson, William Ransome, with whom she forms an unlikely friendship.

Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent transpires over 11 months in the late 19th century, told through the stories of vibrant supporting characters. But the novel is much larger than a single year, person or place as Perry explores questions of science and faith, passion and reason, good and evil, friendship and animosity, past and present, humor and fear. This complex and beautiful novel perfectly captures the tension that exists between opposing forces at every moment of a life, be it large or small. With a quietude that reflects the beauty of the landscapes she describes, and a fortitude that captures the power of a woman's mind, Sarah Perry has proven herself a writer who can dazzle with luminous prose in The Essex Serpent. Here is a novel that will remind readers that they can be, like Perry's perfectly flawed characters, "children of the earth and lost in wonder." --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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