homepage
  roll on christmas  
click here to find out more about ship of fools click here to sign up for the ship of fools newsletter click here to support ship of fools
community the mystery worshipper gadgets for god caption competition foolishness features ship stuff
discussion boards live chat cafe avatars frequently-asked questions the ten commandments gallery private boards register for the boards
 
Ship of Fools


Post new thread  Post a reply
My profile login | Register | Directory | Search | FAQs | Board home
   - Printer-friendly view Next oldest thread   Next newest thread
» Ship of Fools   » Community discussion   » Heaven   » Sept Book Group-The Essex Serpent

 - Email this page to a friend or enemy.    
Source: (consider it) Thread: Sept Book Group-The Essex Serpent
Tree Bee

Ship's tiller girl
# 4033

 - Posted      Profile for Tree Bee   Email Tree Bee   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Our book for September is The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.
Radio Times article and interview with the author here, with some background.
I'll put up some questions for discussion on the weekend of 23/24 September.

--------------------
"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."
— Woody Guthrie
http://saysaysay54.wordpress.com

Posts: 5238 | From: me to you. | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sarasa
Shipmate
# 12271

 - Posted      Profile for Sarasa   Email Sarasa   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I read this earlier in the year, looking forward tot he discussion.
Thanks for the article - useful background reading.

--------------------
'I guess things didn't go so well tonight, but I'm trying. Lord, I'm trying.' Charlie (Harvey Keitel) in Mean Streets.

Posts: 1951 | From: London | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
Shipmate
# 5549

 - Posted      Profile for Dafyd   Email Dafyd   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I've read it and liked it so I'll join up for discussion.

--------------------
we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

Posts: 10420 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Marama
Shipmate
# 330

 - Posted      Profile for Marama   Email Marama   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I read it last year and enjoyed it, so I'm in. I think I try to reread it, and see if any of my opinions have changed.
Posts: 896 | From: Canberra | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

 - Posted      Profile for Trudy Scrumptious   Author's homepage   Email Trudy Scrumptious   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I just looked at this in the bookstore and thought it looked interesting! I'll try to get it read in time to join in.

--------------------
Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

Posts: 7373 | From: Closer to Paris than I am to Vancouver | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

 - Posted      Profile for Curiosity killed ...   Email Curiosity killed ...   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I've been meaning to read this for a bit and have uploaded it to my Kindle, so hopefully I will have read it in time to join in

--------------------
Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13597 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
ArachnidinElmet
Shipmate
# 17346

 - Posted      Profile for ArachnidinElmet   Email ArachnidinElmet   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I've only just got my hands on My Brother Michael for last month's discussion, so I'm unlikely to be on time for this discussion, but will be keeping a close eye. The subject definitely looks interesting.

--------------------
'If a pleasant, straight-forward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle manoeuvres' - Kafka

Posts: 1834 | From: the rhubarb triangle | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged
Paul.
Shipmate
# 37

 - Posted      Profile for Paul.   Author's homepage   Email Paul.   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
One of my many unread ebooks, glad to have an excuse to start reading it.
Posts: 3681 | From: UK | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Martha
Shipmate
# 185

 - Posted      Profile for Martha   Email Martha   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I heard Sarah Perry talk at the Derby Book Festival after reading the Essex Serpent for my book club. She was a very interesting speaker - not every author, I'm sure, can speak as well as they write, but she was well worth hearing. Happy to add a few comments if I can still remember the book (actually, I must still have the ebook. Might even re-read it.)
Posts: 384 | From: in the kitchen | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

 - Posted      Profile for Schroedinger's cat   Author's homepage     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
This is cool - I have already read it, so will be up for discussion.

--------------------
Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

Posts: 18684 | From: At the bottom of a deep dark well. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

 - Posted      Profile for Trudy Scrumptious   Author's homepage   Email Trudy Scrumptious   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I started it yesterday, so am looking forward to joining the discussion when I've got it read.

--------------------
Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

Posts: 7373 | From: Closer to Paris than I am to Vancouver | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Diomedes
Shipmate
# 13482

 - Posted      Profile for Diomedes   Email Diomedes   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
This book is set in the area around my home. I've started reading it and look forward to the discussion. I love walking the Essex Marshes.

--------------------
Distrust simple answers to complicated questions

Posts: 119 | From: Essex England | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged
Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

 - Posted      Profile for Trudy Scrumptious   Author's homepage   Email Trudy Scrumptious   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Gratuitious shoutout to Newfoundland (in this case, to our giant squid and the Rev Moses Harvey who photographed it). I see that thing (well, what's left of it) all the time at the local museum. I always get excited by references to Newfoundland in novels published elsewhere.

--------------------
Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

Posts: 7373 | From: Closer to Paris than I am to Vancouver | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tree Bee

Ship's tiller girl
# 4033

 - Posted      Profile for Tree Bee   Email Tree Bee   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I plan to post discussion starters this weekend. Haven't forgotten...

--------------------
"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."
— Woody Guthrie
http://saysaysay54.wordpress.com

Posts: 5238 | From: me to you. | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Tree Bee

Ship's tiller girl
# 4033

 - Posted      Profile for Tree Bee   Email Tree Bee   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Here are the questions.
Comment on any or all and add your own too.

1. Sarah Perry says in the interview included at the end of my edition of the book that she's always been interested in how faith and science sit together. Will is a reasonable and open minded clergyman for the time. Is his character more realistic than the stereotypical preacher of fire and brimstone?

2. How far is the Serpent itself an essential part of the story?

3. Relationships between various characters change and fluctuate throughout the book. Thinking of Martha and Cora, Luke, Spencer then Edward, Cora and Luke then Will in particular. In each relationship is friendship more important than love?

4. Several unusual phenomena occur in the story, e.g. the Fata Morgana illusion, hysterical laughter and the night shining. Do these add to the supernatural atmosphere of the book?

5. There are other themes and aspects worth commenting on, e.g. Stella's obsession with the colour blue, Francis' behaviour, the issue of social housing, the differences in rural and city living. Are there in fact too many themes?

6. I've heard comments that this book was hard to get into; did you find it so?

--------------------
"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."
— Woody Guthrie
http://saysaysay54.wordpress.com

Posts: 5238 | From: me to you. | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Ohher
Shipmate
# 18607

 - Posted      Profile for Ohher   Author's homepage   Email Ohher   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Well, as one who has only just begun it (about 12 pages in), I'm finding it hard to get into. The author seems to have taken on some Victorian stylistic characteristics to match up, I'm guessing, with her setting and characters. But -- unless the "hard getting into" bit lasts more than 50 pages -- that's often a good sign that the writer has put blood, sweat, and tears into creating a believable and detailed universe for the reader.

--------------------
From the Land of the Native American Brave and the Home of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free

Posts: 277 | From: New Hampshire, USA | Registered: Jun 2016  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

 - Posted      Profile for Schroedinger's cat   Author's homepage     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Yes, I think it is hard to get into. It is all set in a world that is different to ous, and the author is not patronising, simply tells it as it is, and we pick up the atmosphere.

the supernatural aspect is interesting. It feels ot me like "folk-religion" supernatural, old wives tales stuff. But the resistance of the vicar to it makes it all more appealing. In a modern setting, the fact that the vicar is anti=supernatural, but his parishioners are is an almost comic twist.

--------------------
Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

Posts: 18684 | From: At the bottom of a deep dark well. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Garasu
Shipmate
# 17152

 - Posted      Profile for Garasu   Email Garasu   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I found it really tedious and struggled to keep track of what was going on.

--------------------
"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

Posts: 888 | From: Surrey Heath (England) | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
Garasu
Shipmate
# 17152

 - Posted      Profile for Garasu   Email Garasu   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I didn't mind the multiple themes although I suppose none of them really get developed.

I did wonder whether there was any medical reason for Stella's fixation on blue or whether it was a simple attempt to invoke Mary...

--------------------
"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

Posts: 888 | From: Surrey Heath (England) | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
Garasu
Shipmate
# 17152

 - Posted      Profile for Garasu   Email Garasu   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
The unusual phenomena didn't seem to me to add anything.

--------------------
"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

Posts: 888 | From: Surrey Heath (England) | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
Garasu
Shipmate
# 17152

 - Posted      Profile for Garasu   Email Garasu   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Couldn't care less about the relationships between the characters.

The one thing that did resonate was Luke's loss of (the use of) his hand. But that's mot really a relationship despite Spencer's attempt to rehabilitate him...

--------------------
"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

Posts: 888 | From: Surrey Heath (England) | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
Garasu
Shipmate
# 17152

 - Posted      Profile for Garasu   Email Garasu   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
The serpent seemed like a totally wasted opportunity and I really didn't get how a boat could become a serpent.

--------------------
"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

Posts: 888 | From: Surrey Heath (England) | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
Garasu
Shipmate
# 17152

 - Posted      Profile for Garasu   Email Garasu   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I suspect that Will is a reasonably realistic portrayal of a clergyman of the time.

--------------------
"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

Posts: 888 | From: Surrey Heath (England) | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
Garasu
Shipmate
# 17152

 - Posted      Profile for Garasu   Email Garasu   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Sorry for multiple postings. Can't quote and difficult to keep up multiple windows.

--------------------
"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

Posts: 888 | From: Surrey Heath (England) | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged
Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

 - Posted      Profile for Trudy Scrumptious   Author's homepage   Email Trudy Scrumptious   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I absolutely LOVED this book. I'm going to answer the questions a bit out of order:

quote:
6. I've heard comments that this book was hard to get into; did you find it so?

I fell into this book like falling into bed at the end of a tiring day. It absorbed me almost immediately. The first bit was from Luke's p.o.v. and took me a little while to get interested because I wasn't sure what kind of character he was supposed to be, but as soon as Cora was introduced and we began to find out the reality of what the marriage she's supposed to be mourning was actually like, I was completely hooked.

quote:
3. Relationships between various characters change and fluctuate throughout the book. Thinking of Martha and Cora, Luke, Spencer then Edward, Cora and Luke then Will in particular. In each relationship is friendship more important than love?

For me, the characterization and how the relationships between the characters were developed was the strength of this book. I honestly loved every character -- they were complex and flawed and believable -- and I was in awe at how deftly Perry could sketch out an entire character or relationship in just a scene.

It strikes me this is largely a novel about thwarted love-- every character in this novel who loves someone, finds it impossible to fulfill that love in some way. (Will's and Stella's seems to have been a very mutual and fulfilled love throughout their marriage, but at the point of the novel it is threatened both by Stella's illness and by Will's attraction to Cora). I loved how there was no easy resolution to any of these relationships, especially the central one between Will and Cora.

I read one negative review on Goodreads in which the reader said something like "The handsome clergyman already has a beautiful wife, but then Stella coughs and if you've ever read a single Victorian novel you know where this is going." Except that's NOT where it goes -- Stella doesn't conveniently die so W & C can be together. I found it all very realistic -- every one of the friendship/love stories.

quote:
1. Sarah Perry says in the interview included at the end of my edition of the book that she's always been interested in how faith and science sit together. Will is a reasonable and open minded clergyman for the time. Is his character more realistic than the stereotypical preacher of fire and brimstone?

I think Will's quite believable as a Church of England clergyman in the late 19th century, and this is precisely what makes the conflict between faith and science in the novel so interesting. If he were a fundamentalist caricature there'd really be no conflict, because there'd be no common ground between him and Cora. It's because Will sees himself as a rational, educated man, and believes his faith is also rational, that he argues with Cora who believes in reason and science. For her, Will's religious faith is a vestige of outdated superstition, not in keeping with the rest of his rational approach to life. She sees Will's belief in God as being on the level of the villagers' belief in the serpent. For her, faith is the same as superstition.

For Will, there's a very clear distinction between the Christian faith and folk-tales, and that's why he fights the villagers' superstition so hard, why he hacks away at the serpent carving on the pew. He wants to get rid of these old traces of superstition, yet there's something in him that fears Cora may be right -- that when all that is gone, his own faith may prove to be a piece of the same network of folk-magic and superstition. The real struggle between faith and science in the novel is not between the clergyman and the more "rational" characters -- it's within the clergyman himself.

I'll skip the other questions for now out of fear of making an already too-long response even longer, except to say:

quote:
5. There are other themes and aspects worth commenting on, e.g. Stella's obsession with the colour blue, Francis' behaviour, the issue of social housing, the differences in rural and city living. Are there in fact too many themes?


Only if life itself has too many themes, which is possible.

--------------------
Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

Posts: 7373 | From: Closer to Paris than I am to Vancouver | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Marama
Shipmate
# 330

 - Posted      Profile for Marama   Email Marama   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I enjoyed this the first time I read it last year, and even more so this time, I think, as I became more aware of the language

1. Sarah Perry says in the interview included at the end of my edition of the book that she's always been interested in how faith and science sit together. Will is a reasonable and open minded clergyman for the time. Is his character more realistic than the stereotypical preacher of fire and brimstone?

He’s certainly typical of one strand of theological thinking in the 1880s and 90s, the strand that accepted Darwinism and evolution (he has Darwin and Marx on his bookcase). The counterpart on the ‘other side’ wasn’t so much a ‘fire and brimstoner’ as a literalist – 6000 years since creation, Noah’s Ark etc. Will is in good company: the Archbishop of London in the early 1890s was Frederick Temple, who wrote that God created the earth and all in it, and used evolution as his mechanism (Bampton lectures 1884). I found the discussions of science and religion rang very true for their period – a period I know quite a lot about. Perry has said she wanted to show the 1890s as essentially modern, with the Tube, advances in medicine (though not enough for Stella), commercial food etc (one interview says it’s set in 1893; I‘d actually guessed 1891, but it matters not). Will is part of this, along with the interest in urban housing and surgery.

2. How far is the Serpent itself an essential part of the story?

Surely the point is that the Serpent symbolises the villagers’ fears, and Stella’s too. The supernatural element is debunked at the end with the discovery that it’s only a dead fish and an old boat, but the story would be the poorer without it – and not all the fears are removed. Stella still has TB, and Luke still can’t operate. But they are faced.

3. Relationships between various characters change and fluctuate throughout the book. Thinking of Martha and Cora, Luke, Spencer then Edward, Cora and Luke then Will in particular. In each relationship is friendship more important than love?

When I read this last year I concluded that the book was basically a study of friendship, and not just between the adults, but also between the children and the adults, and the children themselves. I still think that on re-reading it, but perhaps it’s also a study of the fuzzy boundary between friendship and erotic love. Trudy Scrumptious suggests it’s about thwarted love – that’s an interesting idea, but it suggests friendship is inferior to erotic love, and I ‘m not sure that’s where Perry wants to take us. Certainly the characterisation is very well done. I found the child- adult relationships particularly interesting: Stella and Francis, Joanna and Martha, and Katherine.

4. Several unusual phenomena occur in the story, e.g. the Fata Morgana illusion, hysterical laughter and the night shining. Do these add to the supernatural atmosphere of the book?

Yes, they maintain the interest in the serpent, and reinforce the villagers’ beliefs.

5. There are other themes and aspects worth commenting on, e.g. Stella's obsession with the colour blue, Francis' behaviour, the issue of social housing, the differences in rural and city living. Are there in fact too many themes?

Certainly they make for a busy novel – but what’s wrong with that?

6. I've heard comments that this book was hard to get into; did you find it so?

No, not at all. The characters are complex and basically likeable, and the relationships between them fascinating. But I may have been helped by my familiarity with early 1890s Britain and the Essex coast, which definitely can be creepy (I’ve lived for two periods of my life in Essex).

Posts: 896 | From: Canberra | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Marama
Shipmate
# 330

 - Posted      Profile for Marama   Email Marama   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I'm going to add another question:
Some of the publicity and reviews for this book have suggested it is a 'Gothic thriller'. Is it?

Posts: 896 | From: Canberra | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

 - Posted      Profile for Trudy Scrumptious   Author's homepage   Email Trudy Scrumptious   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Marama:
I'm going to add another question:
Some of the publicity and reviews for this book have suggested it is a 'Gothic thriller'. Is it?

I'd suggest it's far too quiet, and cerebral, and character-driven*, to be a thriller of any kind, and other than the time period there's nothing particularly "gothic" about it.

*These are all hugely positive things about the novel in my mind, but might not be for someone who's looking primarily for a thriller.

--------------------
Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

Posts: 7373 | From: Closer to Paris than I am to Vancouver | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tree Bee

Ship's tiller girl
# 4033

 - Posted      Profile for Tree Bee   Email Tree Bee   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I can't resist sharing this about a beer tie-in to the novel. [Smile]

--------------------
"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."
— Woody Guthrie
http://saysaysay54.wordpress.com

Posts: 5238 | From: me to you. | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

 - Posted      Profile for Schroedinger's cat   Author's homepage     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I would agree with Trudy. I can see it has some of the elements of gothic thriller, but it is far too gentle for that. Dare I say, far too well written? Written with care and sensitivity - the focus is not on thrill, but on characters, on people.

But it has something of the moody feel of a Dracula novel or suchlike. You can feel the mist around your feet most of the time, and you wonder if there is going to be a monster somewhere. But there isn't.

--------------------
Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

Posts: 18684 | From: At the bottom of a deep dark well. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Diomedes
Shipmate
# 13482

 - Posted      Profile for Diomedes   Email Diomedes   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I finished the book ten minutes ago and my most immediate thought is that I want to read it again, more slowly, savouring each event. I also realise than I am very interested in the characters and their experiences. I want there to be a sequel so that I find out how each of them is faring, say, five years on. In my mind, and for those who know the area, I set it in Brightlingsea.

--------------------
Distrust simple answers to complicated questions

Posts: 119 | From: Essex England | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
Shipmate
# 5549

 - Posted      Profile for Dafyd   Email Dafyd   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tree Bee:
Will is a reasonable and open minded clergyman for the time. Is his character more realistic than the stereotypical preacher of fire and brimstone?

I would think equally realistic. Victorian Anglicanism was a broad affair.

quote:
2. How far is the Serpent itself an essential part of the story?
I'm not sure about essential.
The serpent works as a useful focus to explore aspects of the characters' personalities and what they want. Perry could probably have written a similar book with the same characters and no serpent, but she'd have to work it all in more economically.

quote:
There are other themes and aspects worth commenting on, e.g. Stella's obsession with the colour blue, Francis' behaviour, the issue of social housing, the differences in rural and city living. Are there in fact too many themes?
I don't think there's such a thing as too many themes. I suppose there's such a thing as introducing a theme in such a way as to raise the expectation that you'll do something with it and then not doing anything with it. I don't think the book is guilty of that.

quote:
I've heard comments that this book was hard to get into; did you find it so?
I suppose it (deliberately?) mimics the leisurely pace of nineteenth century novels: it doesn't try to drop us in the head of the central character in a crisis. In so far as Cora is the central character, she's not introduced until the third page of the main story and even then through the thoughts of another character about her. I can see that from the first few pages it's not obvious how the plot is going to get started. But I don't remember finding that a problem in getting involved in the book.

[ 26. September 2017, 21:40: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

--------------------
we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

Posts: 10420 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Marama
Shipmate
# 330

 - Posted      Profile for Marama   Email Marama   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I thought I ought to let others have a go at answering my question about the Gothic thriller before I stepped in myself - but I basically agree with the other comments. It's not really a thriller, though there is a mystery, and it's not nearly melodramatic enough to be called 'gothic'. The entrapped helpless female frees herself, if she ever was helpless- and the monster isn't.
Posts: 896 | From: Canberra | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sarasa
Shipmate
# 12271

 - Posted      Profile for Sarasa   Email Sarasa   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I haven't re-read this since I read it earlier in the year so my memory of it is a bit hazy.
My main problem was that it seemed to raise many of the issues of life in Victorian Britian (the role of women, science vs religion etc) as The Lie Tree which was a SOF Book Group choice last year did. I thought The Lie Tree was better written and in many ways a more interesting book. The Essex Serpent seemed to have too many sub-plots and yes, it's good the characters weren't stereo-types, but I didn't find them that believable either.
I'd also agree it wasn't a gothic thriller.

--------------------
'I guess things didn't go so well tonight, but I'm trying. Lord, I'm trying.' Charlie (Harvey Keitel) in Mean Streets.

Posts: 1951 | From: London | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged
Tree Bee

Ship's tiller girl
# 4033

 - Posted      Profile for Tree Bee   Email Tree Bee   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I found The Essex Serpent to be an original storyline with interesting characters. Reading it again for this group was enjoyable, almost like reading it for the first time. To answer my own questions:

1. Will's passionate nature made him a very real character to me. I suppose what I was getting at in my first question is that he is fallible and nuanced, unlike a stereotypical Victorian clergyman.

2. I was disappointed that the Serpent wasn't real. How naïve of me. I was hoping for an exciting fantasy perhaps. I can see that the fear the serpent inspires in the community was a catalyst for extreme reactions though.

3. Relationships can have a recognisable progression which didn't happen here. This is another aspect to the novel that I found unusual. It did seem to me that friendships of different kinds were explored, though of course there were sexual incidents.

4. I enjoyed the supernatural happenings, especially the Fata Morgana illusion, googling them all for more information. But I thought there were too many for one story.

5. Similarly I think there were too many themes imaking the story very rich like an over stuffed fruit cake. Because of this I found it a slow read in order to take it all in, but didn't find it particularly hard to get into.

I wouldn't describe the book as gothic, it's more nuanced than that.
It's been interesting to read all your comments.

--------------------
"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."
— Woody Guthrie
http://saysaysay54.wordpress.com

Posts: 5238 | From: me to you. | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sandemaniac
Shipmate
# 12829

 - Posted      Profile for Sandemaniac   Email Sandemaniac   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tree Bee:
I can't resist sharing this about a beer tie-in to the novel. [Smile]

The joys of being local and geeky - I guessed which brewery without needing to click the link first!

AG

--------------------
"It becomes soon pleasantly apparent that change-ringing is by no means merely an excuse for beer" Charles Dickens gets it wrong, 1869

Posts: 3549 | From: The wardrobe of my soul | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged


 
Post new thread  Post a reply Close thread   Feature thread   Move thread   Delete thread Next oldest thread   Next newest thread
 - Printer-friendly view
Go to:

Contact us | Ship of Fools | Privacy statement

© Ship of Fools 2016

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.5.0

 
Check out Reform magazine
sip of fools mugs from your favourite nautical website
 
  ship of fools