Friday, July 28, 2017

The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry)

With the amount of praise and publicity Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent has been getting, I was fully expecting one of those rare "unputdownable" books.  While much of this Victorian era novel didn't quite work to grab my attention, I certainly admire Perry's gorgeous writing style and thorough effort on researching.  These factors contribute to me having something an unbiased reviewer should never have: guilt in giving a lower rating to a book that obviously was written with the utmost care.  

The cast of characters are a motley crew, led by Cora, a widow who doesn't quite act in the way you would expect, and William, a parson who grows close to her.  I found both of these people almost unbearably dull; the supporting characters are often so much more interesting than the leads.  It is rumored that the Essex Serpent has returned to the local village, and this is the plot point that all the various storylines revolve around.  When the reader finally gets a resolution to whether or not the serpent is real, it feels like a letdown, for that really doesn't seem like what this novel is about after all.

In my opinion, The Essex Serpent is one of those books that you either loved or...didn't.  For me, it definitely didn't live up to the high expectations I had before reading it.