The Essex Serpent (Paperback)
  • The Essex Serpent (Paperback)
zoom

The Essex Serpent (Paperback)

(author)
£9.99
Paperback 448 Pages
Published: 20/04/2017
  • 10+ in stock

Usually dispatched within 2-3 working days

  • This item has been added to your basket
Waterstones Says

A murder, a monster, a love story and a heroine to rival the greats of 19th century literature collide to make this the most deeply satisfying of fiction. 

Winner of the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016

British Book Awards Book of the Year 2017

Strange News Out of Essex...

The Essex earth had bucked as if trying to shake off all its towns and villages; for twenty seconds, no more, a series of convulsions that paused once as if breath were being drawn and then began again.

Set in 1893 and firmly rooted in the author’s home county of Essex, the novel centres on the character of Cora Seaborne, a widow freed from a controlling, unhappy marriage. Retreating to the Essex countryside with her son, she hears the rumours surrounding the so-called ‘Essex Serpent’, a creature of folklore being blamed for a spate of deaths and disturbances and the cause of escalating panic in the local community. Her ensuing investigations bring her into contact with a clergyman, William Ransome, a man convinced of finding the answer to local hysteria in faith, just as Cora is on finding it in science. Despite their differing opinions, their lives become ever-more enmeshed, finding themselves bound to each other in ways neither could anticipate.

The Essex Serpent blazed as the overwhelming choice by our booksellers to be their Book of the Year. It is one of those novels that takes possession of the reader in a physical embrace; to finish it is to feel released, deeply satisfied at every level. It is a treasure and we recommend this wonderful book to everyone.” – James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones

Read our Sarah Perry interview on the Waterstones blog.

Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781781255452
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 360 g
Dimensions: 194 x 128 x 26 mm
Edition: Main


MEDIA REVIEWS

The Essex Serpent is a novel to relish: a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author - Sarah Waters

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

A big, warm, generous novel that wears its considerable wisdom lightly, The Essex Serpent is an absolute pleasure from start to finish - I truly didn't want it to end. - Melissa Harrison

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry [is] a joyous and beguiling book that wrapped itself around me rather like its eponymous monster. - Cathy Rentzenbrink

A blissful novel of unapologetic appetites, where desire and faith mingle on the marshes, but friendship is the miracle. Sarah Perry has the rare gift of committing the uncommittable to prose - that is to say: here is a writer who understands life. - Jessie Burton

A book to make you want to be a better person. - Justine Jordan, The Guardian

I loved this book. At once numinous, intimate and wise, The Essex Serpent is a marvellous novel about the workings of life, love and belief, about science and religion, secrets, mysteries, and the complicated and unexpected shifts of the human heart - and it contains some of the most beautiful evocations of place and landscape I've ever read. It is so good its pages seem lit from within. As soon as I'd finished it I started reading it again. - Helen MacDonald

A sinuous historical novel by the genius that is Sarah Perry - Lucy Mangan, Stylist

An historical novel with real depth ... Perry writes fantastically, and this deserves attention for the rest of the year. - Steven Cooper, The Bookseller

One day this book will make a fine BBC period drama ... Perry is a wonderful descriptive writer with a remarkable talent for making the familiar strange ... Her accounts of open-heart surgery carried out half a century before antibiotics, or an autistic child questioning the nature of sin, or a soldier's wedding in the phthisic slums of Bethnal Green, snatch the breath in your throat. Perry bleeds light into darkness and back again with a mastery born of her deep professional acquaintance with the gothic tradition. - Oliver Moody, Times

The Essex Serpent is a work of historical fiction, set in the 1890s, which, for originality, richness of prose and depth of characterisation is unlikely to be bettered this year ... a remarkable novel. Although Will and Cora provide the focal points for her story, Perry has packed The Essex Serpent with a rich array of equally rounded characters to hold our attention. The novel is full of vivid set pieces ... it is Perry's ability to conjure up a sense of entire lives unfolding before our eyes that is most impressive. Filled with wisdom about human behaviour and motivations, and written in a distinctive, stylish prose, The Essex Serpent is one of the most memorable historical novels of the past decade. - Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

One for the holiday suitcase. A historical romance with a gothic twist ... expect to spot a copy on beach towels this summer. - Vogue

An irresistible novel that taps the vein of Victorian gothic and British myth - Daily Telegraph

It's prompted comparisons to both Dickens and Bram Stoker and marries the former's abhorrence of injustice with the latter's genius for unsettling atmosphere ... Hardy-esque ... a rich and complex novel but also a deeply enjoyable read, with warm humanity at its core. - Jeff Robson, iPaper

An irresistible novel ... Perry's Victoriana is the most fresh-feeling I can remember ... Her prose is often beautiful ... the tone is a masterstroke ... You feel the influences of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Hilary Mantel channelled by Perry in some sort of Victorian séance. This is the best new novel I've read in years. It's the kind of work that makes you alive to the strangeness of the world and of our history. - Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph

Engaging ... On the book's cover, John Burnside compares The Essex Serpent to Dickens and Stoker. But it was one of my favourite novels, Alasdair Gray's Poor Things (1992), that kept coming back to me ... Perry takes apart our preconceptions of prim Victorian mores with similar gusto ... The Essex Serpent is a historical novel with an entirely modern consciousness, and is every bit as gripping and unusual as its predecessor. - Alex Preston, FT

The Essex Serpent is frightfully good. - Susan Hill, Twitter

An intelligent, lushly written gothic yarn ... Reading it makes you want to hotfoot it to the Essex coast. - Claire Allfree, Metro

Everything they're saying is true: sumptuous, beautiful, powerful, engrossing, brilliant. - Nina Stibbe, Twitter

A lovely book ... it sets out unashamedly to lift the spirits ... The writing has a gorgeous lilt ... The method is itself Victorian - an omniscient narrator scattering sackfuls of sympathy - but the message never gets old: the world is poorer if we don't put ourselves in each other's place once in a while. - Anthony Cummins, Spectator

Sarah Perry's new novel The Essex Serpent is a thing of beauty inside and out. I don't think I've ever mentioned a book's cover in a review before, but Peter Dyer's William Morris-inspired design is stunning, a tantalizing taste of the equally sumptuous prose that lies within ... When it comes to historical fiction, Perry's achieved the near impossible; she's created a novel and within it a world that seems to have sprung complete and fully formed directly from the period in question - a long lost fin-de-siècle Gothic classic - but her characters are as enticingly modern as they are of their period ... Perry also showcases the most beguiling evocations of landscape ... For only a second novel it's a stunning achievement, one for which I predict prize nominations galore, from the Wellcome to the Man Booker - Lucy Scholes, Independent online

A richly themed and exhilarating novel ... this poetically written story dramatises the clash between rationality and resurgent superstition, between desire, morality and the intellect, and the struggle of reformers to redress the poverty of late-Victorian society. - Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail

Sarah Perry has written an exquisitely absorbing, old-fashioned page-turner peopled by memorable characters, particularly the magnificent, stubborn and wilful Cora. Perry also captures a society on the brink of a profound shift, uncomfortably reassessing its view of the world through the prism of scientific progress. The Essex Serpent is shot through with such a vivid, lively sense of the period that it reads like Charles Dickens at his most accessible and fans of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell will also find much to love in this engaging, entertaining Gothic novel. - Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Express

A novel of ideas, and flexes its muscles in addressing multiple concerns of the period ... The novel probes at both private emotion and public concerns, and is engrossing and immersive. The grime of London is only surpassed by the murk of Aldwinter. Cora makes for an indelible heroine: uncompromising, funny and smart, and not unlike Alma Whittaker in Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things. There will also be whispers of Dickens or a gamut of 19th century novels of similar size and scale, but Perry's voice and story are her own. Her language is exquisite, her characterisation finely tuned. Based on The Essex Serpent and its predecessor, it's clear that Perry is a gifted writer of immense ability. - Sinéad Gleeson, Irish Times

A Victorian-era gothic with a Dickensian focus on societal ills, Perry's second novel surprises in its wonderful freshness. There's a sense of Llareggub about close-knit Aldwinter, its flint church, historic oak and ribby shipwreck instantly present, while the tapestry of voices that results from the use of letters amplifies the Under Milk Wood echo. Perry's singular characters are drawn with a fondness that is both palpable and contagious, and the beautifully observed changing seasons permitted space to breathe, all making for pure pleasure. - Stephanie Cross, Observer

An eerie tale of science and superstition ... gothically good. - Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

It's 1893, and Cora Seabourne is a young widow whose husband's death has released her from a miserable marriage. Finally free to follow her own interest in natural history, Cora heads to Essex, hoping the recent reports of a mysterious ancient serpent may possibly turn out to be proof of a "living fossil . . . a species outwitting extinction". There she meets the local vicar, Will Ransome, and despite his scepticism about science and her lack of faith in religion, the two forge an unlikely bond. A bewitching and luminous book about science, faith and different kinds of love. - Anna Carey, Irish Times

Dazzling - Woman and Home

The Essex Serpent is rare in being a novel that is both highly diverting and intellectually rewarding, in taking its thematic interests seriously while playing delightedly with romance and the Gothic. - Sarah Moss, The Lancet

Sarah Perry...beautifully and deeply...elucidates friendships of all kinds in her books...I must recommend the delicate beauty and sinuous power. - Lucy Mangan, Stylist

It's a brilliantly written story of one woman's life and relationships in late Victorian England and my favourite historical novel since Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger. - John Meagher, Irish Independent

A graceful and intelligent book. - Maria Croce, Daily Record

The Essex Serpent is probably the best novel I have read this year. It is the right kind of literary fiction: full of ideas, challenge, and intrigue, but with a compelling narrative that tows you through the pages like a freight train...Perry has created an ensemble of characters so richly drawn that each could warrant a novel in his or her own right...invigorating, fascinating, and hugely enjoyable. - Malcolm Doney, Church Times

My stand-out novel of the year is The Essex Serpent...It's about love, faith and myth. I loved it. - Jenni Murray, Radio Times

The eponymous serpent makes its presence felt throughout, but this novel is about much, much more than a winged demon terrorising the Essex countryside, and is all the richer for it. - Kate Foley, Living North

One of the most-loved books of the last two years...Perry's descriptions of Essex bring to life the beauty of one of our more under-appreciated counties. - Emerald Street

The Essex Serpent has been hailed as a modern classic, and for good reason. It's an esoteric, whimsical book that joins the ranks of generations of Victorian and Gothic novels from Doyle to Shelley, all the while defying the very traditions these books have set down... The perfect book to read as you sit in an overgrown garden, or while tramping through the heath. - The Edinburgh Reporter

A Notable Book of 2017 - New York Times

You may also be interested in...

The Song of Achilles
Added to basket
Circe
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Pachinko
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
Shogun
Added to basket
£12.99
Paperback
Hamnet
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Mythos
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
The Book Thief
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Dissolution
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
Wolf Hall
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
The Silence of the Girls
Added to basket
The Pillars of the Earth
Added to basket
A Thousand Ships
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
The Miniaturist
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Fingersmith
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
Imperium
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
The Familiars
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
The Confessions of Frannie Langton
Added to basket

“Book about love, passion and ideas...”

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village, in the late 19th century, this is the story of a clash of Gothic folklore and the scientific discoveries of its time. In an essence, it is a beautifully written story of... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 329

“A glorious sense of place”

This is a wonderful book, with a glorious sense of place and a delightful cast of characters - I loved Cora Seaborne and everything she stood for & hope to meet her again at some point.

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 219
Joy Finlayson

“It will match any Victorian mystery”

Cora Seaborne has moved to Aldwinter, an Essex parish, upon the burial of her husband. Rumours are rife that the Essex Serpent, a marsh-dwelling creature first seen in the 17th Century, has returned, leaving Cora... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 210

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.

env: aptum
branch: