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The Essex Serpent
Cover of The Essex Serpent
The Essex Serpent
Now a major Apple TV series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston
Borrow Borrow

Now a major Apple TV series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston
THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER


'A blissful novel of unapologetic appetites ... here is a writer who understands life' JESSIE BURTON, author of THE MINIATURIST

London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne's controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge.
On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species.
As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter's vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith.
As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both. The Essex Serpent is a thrilling and unforgettable novel of intrigue, love, and the many forms it can take.
A modern classic perfect for fans of Jessie Burton, Sarah Waters and Stacey Halls, THE ESSEX SERPENT is now a major Apple TV series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston.

Now a major Apple TV series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston
THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER


'A blissful novel of unapologetic appetites ... here is a writer who understands life' JESSIE BURTON, author of THE MINIATURIST

London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne's controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge.
On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species.
As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter's vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith.
As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both. The Essex Serpent is a thrilling and unforgettable novel of intrigue, love, and the many forms it can take.
A modern classic perfect for fans of Jessie Burton, Sarah Waters and Stacey Halls, THE ESSEX SERPENT is now a major Apple TV series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston.

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About the Author-
  • Sarah Perry is the author of Essex Girls, Melmoth, The Essex Serpent and After Me Comes the Flood. She has been the UNESCO City of Literature writer-in-residence in Prague and a Gladstone's Library writer-in-residence. Her work has been translated into twenty two languages. She lives in Norwich
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 6, 2015
    The debut story collection from actor Eisenberg is a quick, witty read. The title story features the hilarious Yelp-like restaurant reviews of a sensitive nine-year-old, whose alcoholic mother drags him around to restaurants so that her ex-husband will foot the bill. The rest of the stories borrow from similar modernist tragicomic scenarios: one story is called “My Little Sister Texts Me with Her Problems”; another, “My Spam Plays Hard to Get,” features a coy email from a porn star with a passion for Chaucer; and, in more old-fashioned missives, a first-year college student chronicles her roommate woes to a tolerant teacher back home, in “My Roommate Stole My Ramen: Letters from a Frustrated Freshman.” Eisenberg’s brand of comedy is frequently compared to Woody Allen’s, and it’s easy to see why—the stories are populated with neuroses, highly difficult people, anxious mothers, and therapists; all seem to function in the same self-contained New York universe. Reading the stories requires a certain tolerance for (or delight in) cultural references. But they’re also charming, deftly written, and laugh-out-loud funny.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2015
    Actor Eisenberg pokes fun at our relationships to the past, each other, and ourselves in his debut collection. These humorous stories are arranged into thematic sections like "Family," "Sports," and "Self-Help." The first, fourth, and final sections-each consisting of a single, stand-alone piece-are not only the longest, but the strongest as well. The eponymous opening consists of a series of restaurant reviews by a precocious 9-year-old. He critiques a whiskey bar, an ashram, and other non-kid-friendly spots where he makes cute-but-true observations about the adult world. The story transcends this premise as the narrator's personal life comes into view. His mother's sadness permeates almost all their meals, and his most powerful insights are those aimed at his own life. Yes, he notes after a Thanksgiving with vegans, "it's really sad the way that animals are killed," but it's sad that his parents are divorced, too. He concludes, "I guess that there are a lot of sad things in the world and sometimes eating turkey with the people you love makes you happy and maybe it would make the turkey happy to know that this was happening with its body." In "My Roommate Stole My Ramen," Eisenberg uses the same winning formula. The narrator's privileged perspective leads to fleeting moments of humor, but her small and complex moments of growth are what leave a lasting mark. A few stories powerfully highlight absurdities, but many others are just plain absurd. "A Post-Gender-Normative Woman Tries to Pick up a Man at a Bar" is stale and predictable; "Marv Albert is My Therapist" plants the joke in the title; and "A Marriage Counselor Tries to Heckle at a Knicks Game" tells that same joke but reversed. These pieces read like stand-up more than story, lacking in character and emotional depth. Twenty-eight short pieces that are always playful but rarely profound.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 2015
    Academy Award-nominated actor Eisenberg has written two plays whose reception suggests skills that bode well for a first story collection, exhibiting, as the "New York Times" review said of "Asuncion", "sharp characterizations and engaging dialogue." Eisenberg's stories leap from college dorms to Los Angeles to ancient Pompeii, charting socially awkward moments with tart humor. Folks will be interested.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 17, 2017
    In Perry’s (After Me Comes the Flood) excellent second novel, set in the Victorian era, recent widow Cora Seaborne leaves London with her 11-year-old son, Francis, and loyal companion, Martha, and goes to Colchester, where a legendary, fearsome creature called the Essex Serpent has been sighted. Scholarly Cora, who is more interested in the study of nature than in womanly matters of dress, tramps about in a man’s tweed coat, determined to find proof of this creature’s existence. Through friends, she is introduced to William Ransome, the local reverend; his devoted wife, Stella; and their three children. Cora looks for a scientific rationale for the Essex Serpent, while Ransome dismisses it as superstition. This puts them at odds with one another, but, strangely, also acts as a powerful source of attraction between them. When Cora is visited by her late husband’s physician, Luke Garrett, who carries a not-so-secret torch for her, a love triangle of sorts is formed. In the end, a fatal illness, a knife-wielding maniac, and a fated union with the Essex Serpent will dictate the ultimate happiness of these characters. Like John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman, whose Lyme Regis setting gets a shout-out here, this is another period literary pastiche with a contemporary overlay. Cora makes for a fiercely independent heroine around whom all the other characters orbit.

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