Now this book was awarded Waterstones Book of the Year in 2016 and I can definitely see why. This book was beautifully written, like a piece of artwork but in writing.
It took me a few chapters to get into it as the writing style has traits of Charles Dickens and was so unlike the previous book I’d just finished but you soon get used to it. I have to be honest, I had to google what some of the terminology was as the language is sometimes a reflection on the era the book is set in (1893). Everything is described in so much detail, to the point where you actually feel like you are there, in the Essex Countryside, until you look up and you’re actually sat on a busy train that is delayed half an hour.
The main character Cora Seaborne, a widow, retreats to Essex after her husband dies with her companion, Martha. I LOVE Cora. She is so unlike the stereotypical female in a historical novel. She is confident, independent and quirky, wearing men’s jackets and boots and rebelling against her previous married life where she was deeply unhappy.
Cora becomes interested in the ‘Essex Serpent’ a creature of folklore that the residents believe to have returned to roam the marshes in Essex. Hysteria and paranoia set in on the town with many deaths and strange occurrences.
Some of the chapters are written in letters exchanged between the characters. I really liked this style. I enjoyed the letters transferred between Cora and local minister William Ransome who completely denies all rumours of the Essex Serpent. The two characters are total opposites, one believing in science, the other in faith, but both become really close friends. Their relationship was my favourite aspect of the novel.
I’m going to rate this book 4/5 – simply because it was a stunning read but I did have to google and re-read certain parts at the beginning to grasp the writing style (probably just me though!).
I definitely want to read more by Sarah Perry!