Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - BOOKS - by Sarah Perry, Allen & Un­win. LM

The Vic­to­rian era has not aged well, but was it as dreary and pi­ous as its rep­u­ta­tion sug­gests? In The Es­sex Ser­pent, you’ll find a time alive with con­tra­dic­tions, where faith meets sci­en­tific dis­cov­ery, wealth meets ad­vances in work­ers’ rights and women be­gin to look be­yond their do­mes­tic con­fines. It’s the 1890s and re­cently wid­owed Cora Se­aborne is in­trigued by ru­mours of an an­cient dragon stir­ring in the waters of ru­ral Es­sex. Could it be a rem­nant of a species thought lost? Her in­ves­ti­ga­tions lead her to the Rev­erend Wil­liam Ran­some and his wife, Stella, who is “no big­ger than a fairy and twice as pretty”. They and their friends and chil­dren are vi­brant vi­tal char­ac­ters. Their cu­rios­ity, dreams and in­tel­lects make this novel a po­tent and ir­re­sistible brew.

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