Title: The Essex Serpent
Author: Sarah Perry
Publish Date: June 6, 2017 (Today!)
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Set in Victorian London
and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on
scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.
are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow
who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar.
They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical
Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has
returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the
beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his
parishioners' agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith.
Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn
around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves
inexorably drawn together and torn apart."
My Two Cents:
In "The Essex Serpent," widow Cora escapes Victorian England for the countryside. She is seeking rest and recuperation from losing her husband. She wants to put her life back together again. The town where she settles is abuzz with news of the Essex Serpent, an unknown creature that feasts on humans. It sounds unbelievable at first but Cora is drawn up into the excitement and believes that the creature might truly be real!
It took me awhile to get into the story but it really picked up once we start getting to unravel the mystery of the serpent and to the relationship between Cora, who believes in the serpent, and William, who definitely does not believe. Their relationship is one where opposites truly attract. Although this is a well-visited trope, it works well for this relationship and felt very real to me. Cora is very independent and self-sufficient. She doesn't care if she doesn't play by the rules. William is seriously and would rather not step a toe out of line! You're pulling for them the whole time.
This book has a very gothic feel to it, which I loved. This feel came in mostly for me with the way that the author described London while Cora still lived there and then the coast once Cora leaves. You get a great sense of place and it makes the environment where the serpent supposedly is feel very eerie indeed! There were a few places where the book veered off into over description but for the most part, the descriptions added a lot to the tale.
Overall, this was a read that got off to a slow start but is atmospheric and off the beaten path!