The Essex Serpent: A Novel
Sarah Perry, in her novel The Essex Serpent brings us the story of a young widow’s awakening and an unlikely friendship. Cora Seaborne, having recently buried her abusive husband, decides that a change of scenery is just what she needs. Being a student of paleontology, she packs up her autistic son, Francis, and her companion, Martha, and heads to Aldwinter, where reports have been circulating that the Essex Serpent may be on the loose again. Cora is convinced that it is an ichthyosaur and is determined to discover proof. Shortly after arriving, Cora is introduced to the local vicar, Reverend William Ransome, and his lovely family. Cora and William form an unlikely friendship and spend much time having many discussions pitting her science against his faith.
Readers will be delighted to find this work reminiscent of writers such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Kate Chopin. Perry brings the Victorian era sharply into focus for us with its slow crawl toward enlightenment and discusses issues still facing us today: homelessness, medical breakthroughs, and autism. Her characters are complex, and her settings are stunning and vivid, but what sets this novel apart from others in the genre is her focus on the possibility of platonic meaningful friendships. I cannot recommend this book enough and have already passed my copy along to a friend!
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