Jonathan Barnes

Here Be Dragons

The Essex Serpent

By Sarah Perry

Serpent’s Tail 416pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

As an adolescent I was forever nursing crushes on female characters from Victorian literature: wild Catherine Earnshaw, demure Little Dorrit and artful Irene Adler, she who will, at least for Sherlock Holmes, always be the woman. If Sarah Perry’s second novel, The Essex Serpent, had been published a couple of decades earlier, my younger self might well have added to that list the book’s protagonist: striking, erudite, melancholic Cora Seaborne.

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