Norwich-based Sarah Perry, winner of the EDP East Anglian Book of the Year 2014 for After Me Comes the Flood launches her second novel, The Essex Serpent. Join us for a reading and Q&A to celebrate.
‘The Essex Serpent is a novel to relish: a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author’ Sarah Waters
‘A blissful novel of unapologetic appetites, where desire and faith mingle on the marshes.’ Jessie Burton
‘I loved this book ... It is so good its pages seem lit from within. As soon as I'd finished it I started reading it again.’ Helen MacDonald
‘Had Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker come together to write the great Victorian novel, I wonder if it would have surpassed The Essex Serpent? No way of knowing, but with only her second outing, Sarah Perry establishes herself as one of the finest fiction writers working in Britain today’ John Burnside
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.
This book promises to be big - come and join it right at the start!