The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
You know when you are reading a book, and every moment you are not reading it you wish you were? For me, that was The Essex Serpent. This novel encompassed me the entire time I was reading it, and when I was about 10 pages from the end I held off reading just so that it would last a little bit longer. I am going to tell you all about this book, but it is not out in the US until June. However if you want it know - you can order it at book depository which is a UK store with free shipping to the US.
This novel focuses on the life of Cora in the late 1800's- a woman who at the start of the book has become a widow ending a marriage to an awful man. She, her son and her companion move out to a remote town in the area of Essex in order to chase Cora's dream of discovering some anthropological finding like her hero. She hears tale of a serpent that is causing problems in a tiny town and sets out to discover if it truly exists. The novel introduces us to so many great characters - from the "Imp" doctor that is madly in love with success and Cora and Cora's companion that is a champion for the poor in need of housing in London. But the real relationship is between Cora and the Pastor in the little town. The book focuses on their friendship and the fight between fact and belief. They need each other as much as they would like to be away from each other. The pastor works to get the people of the town not to allow superstition to guide their life - as the continue to blame the serpent for every bad thing that occurs in their town. The plot is rich with complexity, and I only want to give you a taste. Half the fun is the way that Ms. Perry works this out for you.
This book is very victorian in nature. There are long passages of amazing prose that pain such a vivid picture of the world that our characters live in and how the think and react to each other. As I read it I kept recalling all the best of Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books - and Ms. Perry invokes a world as well as Dickens. I also never felt like there was anything forced in this book - each paragraph was important to what had happened or was going to happen. There is a motif through out regarding the color blue - it is so well done. Ms. Perry paints a picture of a world that I have never been to - but I feel as if I could describe to you as if I had been there.
This is one of those books that I loved so much, I am having a hard time putting into words on the page how much I loved the book. I had the same issue when I talked about it on my vlog. I really just want to say to you "Read this book... I promise you will not regret it." There that is enough.