Not a great historical novel, but makes a good debate
The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
Set in Victorian Britain, a mysterious serpent seems to be snatching children, and a female wannabe palaeontologist and male vicar try to find the cause: is it a coincidence, a dinosaur come to life, or is there something evil haunting the Essex shores?
We read it as a book club, and had high hopes for this book because it has had such hype, but we were mainly disappointed.
Although it’s set in Victorian Britain, it never feels like you have travelled back in time, and there are parts where it feels a little anachronistic. The main character never rang true for most of us, and quite a few other characters felt like constructs, rather than people.
However, the liberal, logical, slightly cynical vicar character rang true in a way that the others didn’t, and I was interested to read of her religious upbringing. It made for a good book club debate, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a historical novel.