The Essex Serpent

Sarah Perry. Custom, $26.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-266637-6
In Perry’s (After Me Comes the Flood) excellent second novel, set in the Victorian era, recent widow Cora Seaborne leaves London with her 11-year-old son, Francis, and loyal companion, Martha, and goes to Colchester, where a legendary, fearsome creature called the Essex Serpent has been sighted. Scholarly Cora, who is more interested in the study of nature than in womanly matters of dress, tramps about in a man’s tweed coat, determined to find proof of this creature’s existence. Through friends, she is introduced to William Ransome, the local reverend; his devoted wife, Stella; and their three children. Cora looks for a scientific rationale for the Essex Serpent, while Ransome dismisses it as superstition. This puts them at odds with one another, but, strangely, also acts as a powerful source of attraction between them. When Cora is visited by her late husband’s physician, Luke Garrett, who carries a not-so-secret torch for her, a love triangle of sorts is formed. In the end, a fatal illness, a knife-wielding maniac, and a fated union with the Essex Serpent will dictate the ultimate happiness of these characters. Like John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman, whose Lyme Regis setting gets a shout-out here, this is another period literary pastiche with a contemporary overlay. Cora makes for a fiercely independent heroine around whom all the other characters orbit. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/17/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-267663-4
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-06-267038-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-1685-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-5384-1687-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-1686-0
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-266639-0
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