Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Title: The Essex Serpent
Author: Sarah Perry
Published: June 2017, Custom House
Format: ARC Paperback, 432 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

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.

Hailed by Sarah Waters as "a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author," The Essex Serpent is "irresistible . . . you can feel the influences of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Hilary Mantel channeled by Perry in some sort of Victorian séance. This is the best new novel I’ve read in years" (Daily Telegraph, London).

My thoughts: This is very much not a typical read for me with the themes of religion and science running through it, but there was just something about it that called to me when I heard about it that made me want to read it. Definitely the cover drew me in - this cover is so striking and intriguing, but it's also the story itself that intrigued me. I guess my point is that sometimes it's good to go out of our comfort zones every once in a while as we might find something that surprises us!

This book really surprised me...it's full of wonderfully quirky characters and a multi-layered story that explores real world issues relevant even today. Set in Victorian England, the issues tackled are superstition and faith versus science and fact. As Cora and William develop a friendship after the death of her husband, they realize they are on opposite sides of this issue. Yet their friendship continues to blossom despite this - truly a testament to the old adage opposites do attract - as soon they find themselves more and more drawn together, despite his being not only a vicar, but also married.

The cast of characters that make up this book are so well-drawn and developed. They are relatable and vivid and I loved following them on their journey. This is definitely more of a character-driven book than a plot-driven one, and we certainly meet some interesting and unique characters along the way! I was particularly enamored and charmed by Cora's son, Francis, who is withdrawn and tends to see the world in black and white - there is no shades of gray with Francis. I just loved him!

The writing of this book is just beautiful - it's so descriptive, almost at times lyrical. It's very atmospheric, using the small coastal town of Essex to it's advantage. This is the type of book you just want to immerse yourself in, enjoy each and every word, savor it, and not rush through it. 

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be keeping an eye out for what else Sarah Perry writes!




About the author: Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979. Her first novel, After Me Comes the Flood, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize. She lives in Norwich. The Essex Serpent is her American debut.


Author Links: Website | Twitter






Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


 


Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #TheEssexSerpent). 



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1 comment

  1. I'm so glad that you took a chance to venture outside your reading comfort zone and that it turned out to be such a wonderful experience! Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I love interacting with other book lovers and appreciate any thoughts or feedback! If you read a book after seeing my review, please let me know. Come back and leave me a link to your review so I can read it. Thank you!!!

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