The Essex Serpent

The Essex Serpent

Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Paperback Published on: 20/04/2017
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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: 360g
  • Dimensions: 194 x 128 x 26 mm

Customer Reviews

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The Essex Serpent
A truly beautiful book
I'm a crime fictionaholic, was given this (the hardback) for Christmas by my well-meaning partner and thought I should make the effort. Well. No effort. Ma... READ MORE
The Essex Serpent
Enjoyed but not loved
For me the heart of this book was the romance between William and Cora, the attraction and love between them was so well written that it left me smiling an... READ MORE
Katherine Gregory
The Essex Serpent
A little confusing at first...
The 'Essex Serpent' is based on a so-called legend of a village in Essex whereby a creature which is comfortable on land and in water targets villagers, to... READ MORE
M Cooke
The Essex Serpent
Not quite what I had imagined
I had looked forward to reading a novel of ideas; pitching Darwinian notions against religion and superstition within a human drama. These themes though be... READ MORE
Felicity McGowan
The Essex Serpent
An intensely challenging reading experience!
This is an enormous, intense book. Not in terms of length, although it is over four hundred pages long, but in terms of subject matter, themes, ideas and c... READ MORE
The Essex Serpent
The Essex Serpent
An engaging and interesting read.
Deborah MacDonald
The Essex Serpent
I do not recommend.
What I pain this book was to read! I don't care how much praise this book has gotten. It was not good, and I do not recommend. I just didn't get the point... READ MORE
The Sassenach's Library
The Essex Serpent
Really enjoyable
Enjoyed this book more than I ever expected to! Compelling cast of characters steeped in the growing hysteria of a small community that leads to an emotion... READ MORE
The Essex Serpent
a dreadfully written slog with no resolution
I read The Essex Serpent mostly because of the great reviews I've read. But this is a turgid slow waddle though the countryside with not even a "nearly" ro... READ MORE
Richard Pullen
The Essex Serpent
I bought this for book club reading and it was an interesting read. A historical novel made easier to read by letters and good writing. I liked the collec... READ MORE
Chinelo Ibekwe
The Essex Serpent
Love, Life, Sex, Science, Mythology, Illness and Motherhood
Beautifully set in Victorian London and an atmospheric Essex salt marsh this book challenges preconceptions and is a brilliant read.
Rebecca Bogucki
The Essex Serpent
Men and monsters
I haven’t yet seen the Apple TV+ adaptation of this book which I read some months ago. I always worry that the visualisations of director/creative team wil... READ MORE
Mark Rasdall
The Essex Serpent
A tasty brew of spooky Victoriana
In an evocatively-drawn hinterland on the ominous shores of the Thames estuary, something narsty in the water is striking fear into the locals. There’s som... READ MORE
Lesley Jane