Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Essex Serpent




I was beguiled by the cover and the title and happy to find that I loved the story. It reminded me of The French Lieutenant's Woman and, to a lesser degree of  A.S. Byatt's Possession, partly because of the setting -- Victorian England -- and partly because of the tangle of emotions amongst the characters -- a widow whose loss has set her free to reclaim her own identity anda clergyman struggling to reconcile his love for a charming, consumptive, and increasingly mad wife with his growing attraction to the widow.

That's just one triangle. There's a whole cast of fully realized supporting characters, equally entangled -- the widow's autistic son; her companion who is a budding socialist; the physician who attended her husband and is enamored of her; the physician's wealthy friend who falls for the companion . . . it goes on and on -- like life. But this is no soap opera -- it's a beautifully written and imagined account of a time when the beliefs and mores of the world were in flux.

Highly recommended. 

The NY Times has an excellent review HERE.




8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Vicki! My, how Josie is growing and getting cuter every day. It's so much fun to see her grow and learn new skills.
I'm adding "The Essex Serpent" to my list. Here's a book you might want to add to your list: "A Gentleman of Moscow." It's a big book, many pages, but so hard to put down and a fast reader. Here's a synopsis:
A Gentleman in Moscow is the utterly entertaining second novel from the author of Rules of Civility. Amor Towles skillfully transports us to The Metropol, the famed Moscow hotel where movie stars and Russian royalty hobnob, where Bolsheviks plot revolutions and intellectuals discuss the merits of contemporary Russian writers, where spies spy, thieves thieve and the danger of twentieth century Russia lurks outside its marbled walls. It’s also where wealthy Count Alexander Rostov lives under house arrest for a poem deemed incendiary by the Bolsheviks, and meets Nina. Nina is a precocious and wide-eyed young girl who holds the keys to the entire hotel, wonders what it means to be a princess, and will irrevocably change his life. Despite being confined to the hallway of the hotel, the Count lives an absorbing, adventure-filled existence, filled with capers, conspiracies and culture. Alexander Rostov is a character for the ages--like Kay Thompson’s Eloise and Wes Anderson’s M. Gustav, he is unflinchingly (and hilariously for readers) devoted to his station, even when forced to wait tables, play hide and seek with a young girl, or confront communism. Towles magnificently conjures the grandeur of the Russian hotel and the vibrancy of the characters that call it home. --Al Woodworth, The Amazon Book Review Deana the Queena

Stella Jones said...

I haven't come across that book here yet Vicki, but it does look and sound interesting. I am currently reading 'A Legacy of Spies' by John Le Carre.

Anvilcloud said...

Sounds interesting.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Deana! Noted!

Stella, I don't know why but I've never been able to get into LeCarre -- but it's been a long time since I tried. Maybe my tastes have matured and I should try again.

Barbara Rogers said...

Great to have another recommendation...there is this huge stack of books that I've started, and another stack of books waiting to read...but one day when I get to the bottom, oh my, I'll need a book to read!

Jim Egerton said...

Personally I really like John Le Carre. His gloomy hero Smiley and others along with the very dark characters he develops has kept me up finishing his novels. Mix that with gloomy English weather and cold one room flats in Germany and you have a perfectly depressing story. Some say he is a middleweight writer. Well some of the greatest boxers ever were middleweights. Oh, that analogy is a stretch.

Vicki Lane said...

All that gloom is probably why I'm not a LeCarre fan.

Darla said...

Thank you for this! I've been hemming and hawing on whether to get this one ... now I know it's a go! :)