I can’t think of any other book that explores friendship so deeply, and brings up such ideas about it. Books often focus on love. The Essex Serpent shows that there’s another type of relationship with just as much potential for passion and complexity as love is.
If I weren’t such a fan of complicated deep writing and interesting personalities, I might have dropped the book midway. The first half of the book is as uneventful as bits of frozen wax on a candle. All action ceases and you feel like no movement will ever be made again. Unfortunately, I think it will draw many readers away.
How was the book?
Cora Seaborne has recently become a widow. She has quite unexpected feelings about it. It will take you time to learn why. You will realise early on, though, that she’s quite an unusual person for England in 1893. She’s fascinated by science, biology and nature. She loves wearing men’s clothing and walking alone in the woods. She dreams about finding a living dinosaur. She takes her friend and her very special son to Essex where she does find something she didn’t expect to.
What I loved about the book
Genre: atmospheric fiction set in Victorian times. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.63. ⭐️Stars from me: 5.
Sarah Perry’s writing is intricate and intense. Each paragraph, each line, each phrase bears a lot of meaning. This is not complexity for the sake of complexity. She reaches to the truth in each sentence. To skip even one is to lose a lot.
Views on friendship
I absolutely admire how Perry knitted all the details together. You can’t discard any big or minor events without ruining the whole construction.
Perfectly knitted plot
I loved it! But I know that many readers won’t share my opinion. The story is extremely slow. If you are not into slow reading, sophisticated writing and the main focus on personalities rather than on action, then you might not enjoy the book as much as I did.
What I liked less
If having read my review you got interested in the book, then I think you should definitely read The Essex Serpent. If you want a gripping fast-paced story about a dinosaur hunt, you should choose another book.
Would I recommend the book?
This is what I want from characters in all books! The characters in The Essex Serpent are not only alive and breathing, they are actually interesting. You can’t shelf or label them, they are unique, just like real people are. There’s no other Cora Seaborne in the whole Universe, fictional or not, as there are no copies of any other characters in this story.