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Sarah Perry - The Essex Serpent

Sarah Perry discusses The Essex Serpent, which won the Waterstones Book of Year and British Book Awards Book of the Year 2017. With James Naughtie and a group of invited readers.

Sarah Perry discusses her best-selling novel The Essex Serpent with James Naughtie and a group of invited readers.

Set in 1893 and firmly rooted in the author's home county of Essex, the novel centres on the character of Cora Seaborne, a widow freed from a controlling, unhappy marriage. Retreating to the Essex countryside with her son, she hears the rumours surrounding the so-called 'Essex Serpent', a creature of folklore being blamed for a spate of deaths and disturbances and the cause of escalating panic in the local community. Her ensuing investigations bring her into contact with a clergyman, William Ransome, a man convinced of finding the answer to local hysteria in faith, just as Cora is on finding it in science.

Sarah Perry explains how the idea for the novel came from a 17th century woodcut of a huge serpent being hounded out of an Essex village; and how the novel attempts to show the modern side of the Victorian age, with social reform, a burgeoning interest in science and inroads into medical practices; and how, at the heart of the novel, there is a love story.

The Essex Serpent won the Waterstones Book of Year 2016 and British Book Awards Book of the Year 2017.

Presenter : James Naughtie
Producer : Dymphna Flynn

May's Bookclub choice : The Snowman by Jo Nesbø (2007).

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