At the age of four and twenty, Henry is content with his life as a clergyman, leaving his older brother Frederick to inherit Northanger Abbey. But General Tilney is determined to increase the family's means by having all three of his children marry wealthy partners.
During a trip to Bath, Henry meets the delightful Miss Catherine Morland and believes he may have found the woman he's been looking for, although she has no great fortune. When the General takes an unusual liking to Catherine and invites her to visit the Abbey, Henry is thrilled. But just as in the Gothic novels Henry loves, not everything is as it seems...
"A novel of almost insolent ambition--lush and fantastical, a wild Eden behind a garden gate...it's part ghost story and part natural history lesson, part romance and part feminist parable. I found it so transporting that 48 hours after completing it, I was still resentful to be back home." -New York Times
“An irresistible new novel…the most delightful heroine since Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice…By the end, The Essex Serpent identifies a mystery far greater than some creature ‘from the illuminated margins of a manuscript’: friendship.” -Washington Post
"Richly enjoyable... Ms. Perry writes beautifully and sometimes agreeably sharply... The Essex Serpent is a wonderfully satisfying novel. Ford Madox Ford thought the glory of the novel was its ability to make the reader think and feel at the same time. This one does just that." -Wall Street Journal
An exquisitely talented young British author makes her American debut with this rapturously acclaimed historical novel, set in late nineteenth-century England, about an intellectually minded young widow, a pious vicar, and a rumored mythical serpent that explores questions about science and religion, skepticism, and faith, independence and love.
When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend.
While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief.
These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected.
Hailed by Sarah Waters as "a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author," The Essex Serpent is "irresistible . . . you can feel the influences of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Hilary Mantel channeled by Perry in some sort of Victorian séance. This is the best new novel I’ve read in years" (Daily Telegraph).
Maisie Thomas spends every summer with her parents at Grange House, a hotel on an island off the coast of Maine ruled by the elegant but distant Miss Grange. In 1898, when Maisie turns 17, her visit marks a turning point. On the morning after her arrival, local fishermen make a gruesome discovery: two drowned lovers, found clasped in each other's arms. It's only the first in a series of events that cast a shadow over Maisie's summer. As she considers the attentions of two very different young men, one an adventurous writer, the other an ambitious businessman from her father's company, Maisie also falls under the gaze of Miss Grange, who begins to tell her stories of her past. But which are truth and which are fiction? Another death, a cache of diaries, an exchange of letters--and a ghostly apparition--all play a part in changing Maisie's life forever.
Rich with the details, customs, and language of the era, Sarah Blake's GRANGE HOUSE is part family saga, part ghost-story, part love story; a wonderfully atmospheric, page-turning novel of literary suspense and romance.