This is a great book, beautifully written, about the age old themes of married love, passion, and whether you can be in love with more than one person at once.
It’s set in London, 1893, and a very atmospheric Essex. The heroine, Cora Seaborne, has escaped an unhappy marriage with her husband’s recent death. Supposedly in mourning, she heads to the Essex countryside with her peculiar son Francis, and as a keen amateur naturalist, she is immediately engrossed by rumours of a mythical Essex serpent, which is haunting the local waterways.
She is introduced to the parish vicar, William Ransome, who is doing his best to calm the local populace, and they are instantly drawn to each other.
There are characters in the novel who suffer bravely from unrequited love, for whom one feels deep sympathy. Cora, herself, has three people in her life who love her deeply.
The book progresses through the individual months of 1893, and what a year of awakening it proves to be for Cora, William, the doctor, Luke Garrett, Cora’s faithful companion, Martha, the socialist, and their aristocratic friends, George Spencer and Charles Ambrose. Their intertwined friendships, and different forms of love comprise a celebration of all that’s most important in life. A wonderful book. I loved it.
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