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The Essex Serpent: A Novel by Sarah Perry
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The Essex Serpent: A Novel (original 2016; edition 2017)

by Sarah Perry (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,6811594,557 (3.66)259
Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way. They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners' agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart. Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.… (more)
Member:Books-And-Degrees
Title:The Essex Serpent: A Novel
Authors:Sarah Perry (Author)
Info:Custom House (2017), Edition: International ed., 432 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work Information

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (2016)

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    Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (ddelmoni, KayCliff)
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    The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (wandering_star)
  4. 00
    The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Something about the writing style of The Clocks In This House... really reminded me of The Essex Serpent, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then I saw a tweet from Sarah Perry saying how much she enjoyed The Clocks In This House... - so there must have been something to it!… (more)
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» See also 259 mentions

English (153)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Latvian (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (159)
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
*3.5

( )
  Fortunesdearest | Oct 4, 2022 |
Although somewhat interesting, this is a slow moving book full of people with repressed feelings. Set in the 19th century in London and Essex (obviously), it relates the story of a bit of popular hysteria in a small village. At the same time, the parson, a man of education, and a woman from London almost, allllmost strike up a relationship, hindered onnly by the parson's loyalty to his tubercular wife and his morality.

For people interested in 19th century mores, have at it. ( )
  barlow304 | Sep 17, 2022 |
A wonderful journey into the late Victorian age, where science, religion, and superstition vie for the hearts and minds of the Blackwater Estuary in Essex. ( )
  SimonRoyHughes | Sep 3, 2022 |
Just saw that Tom Hiddleston is gonna be part of the TV series based on this book so...



( )
  MJSpice | Aug 15, 2022 |
Set in Victorian England, The Essex Serpent is a tale of emotional upheaval and misdirected love. There is a monster in the Blackwater of Essex, a serpent with wings that is taking lives and terrorizing the superstitious populace, or perhaps there is just a creature there that is a throwback to an earlier age. For the curious Cora Seaborne, it is a mystery to be solved, for the pastor, William Ransome, it is an irrational fear that he must help his congregation to overcome, and for the peasants it is a sign that God is unhappy with them and that some reparation must be made.

Meeting in this highly charged atmosphere, Cora and Will make an unlikely friendship, which develops into a tie that is stronger than either had expected or cares to acknowledge. There are a million reasons they should not bond, including Will’s sweet and fragile wife, Stella, and the fact of their bonding reverberates in the lives of all those closest to them but the heart will have what the heart will have.

While there is a bit of an attempt to explore the science vs. religion aspects of Victorian thought and perhaps to illustrate that those two views are not exclusive to one another, there isn’t anything very deep or thoughtful going on here. It is primarily a good, fun read. One wishes to know what will happen to all these characters, Cora, Will, Stella but also the lesser ones, Martha, Spencer and Luke. One wishes to know what the serpent is and whether the fears and suspicions of the lower classes can be explained logically by the upper ones or God has sent into their midst an unexplainable thing beyond their logic.

A pleasing, well-written, in the moment novel that will leave no lasting impression, I fear. So, I give it 3 perfectly adequate, I-liked-it stars.

( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
Volatility infects the politics of the novel: the narrative, moving restlessly between the city and the marshes, concerns itself increasingly with “the problem of London”, the relationship between governance, business and poverty summed up in slum renting, slum life – the endless, insoluble matter of how privilege can be persuaded to act outside its own interests, or even see beyond its own limits. In the tenement dwellers of Bethnal Green, Charles Ambrose – otherwise, we are led to believe, a decent man – sees “not equals separated from him only by luck and circumstance, but creatures born ill-equipped to survive the evolutionary race”. From this distance it seems impossible to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perry extends her considerable generosity not just to her characters but to the whole late Victorian period, with its fears for the present and curious faith in the future;
added by KayCliff | editGuardian, John Harrison (Jun 16, 2016)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Perry, Sarahprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bonné, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brovelli, ChiaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dyer, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fagel, RolandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gerson, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laferrière, ChristineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McMahon, JuanitaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, WilliamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.

Michel de Montaigne, On Friendship
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For Stephen Crowe
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A young man walks down by the banks of the Blackwater under the full cold moon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way. They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners' agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart. Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.

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Book description
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. [retrieved 8/30/17 from Amazon.com]
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