The Essex Serpent
The Essex Serpent centres on a woman in the late 18th Century, whose husband has recently died. But Cora Seaborne is not the constrained grieving widow you might expect to read about in a book set at this time – her situation has given her a freedom she has not experienced before, that she takes full advantage of. She moves to Essex to hunt for fossils and hears tales of a possible ‘living fossil’; the Essex Serpent, a creature apparently living in the estuary and terrorising the local community. Cora wants to unravel its mystery and in the process becomes closely involved with the local rector, his wife and his family. The book explores debates between religion, science and superstition, and also the line between friendship and romantic love. Cora is a wonderfully independent, wilful and compelling character, at the heart of a brilliant and satisfying book.