East Markham Book Club
The Essex Serpent
by Sarah Perry

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. n

Next Meeting Sunday 16th April 2017 at 7.30pm

Club Opinion

Sarah Perry has a beautiful writing style and descriptive imagination, capturing the essence of the superstitious Victorian community.

The Essex Serpent
, although beautifully written, was found to lack story and content, instead providing the reader with a build up of characters with no direction or plot.

'Easy read', 'beautiful book cover', 'over-hyped' were just some of the comments received from the group. A must read? Perhaps not. A beautiful compilation of writing, most certainly. Sarah Perry has previously written After Me Comes the Flood. The group agreed this is probably a book they would not choose to read.

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