Must Read Monday (46): Janet Ellis’s The Butcher’s Hook & Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent
Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!
This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!
This week: a few seemingly under-the-radar historical fiction titles that have my attention! First up is the eighteenth-century set The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis. This title actually captured my attention when I was book browsing/buying one weekend. I passed by an end display and saw this beautiful green cover, the intriguing title and went to investigate further. I know not much more about this title than: what is stated on the description and that Burial Rites author Hannah Kent blurbed it. I have read some very positive reviews for The Butcher’s Hook and it simply sounds like a darker historical fiction title right up my alley! Second up is the wonderfully titled The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. This is a title I happened upon when perusing historical fiction titles on Goodreads. The book jumped out at me firstly due to bold cover and content. Secondly, upon further reading, an author whose book recommendation I hold in high esteem gave this title strong mention and that fact, in combination with its fascinating description, add up to must read.
Georgian London. Summer 1763.
Anne Jaccob is coming of age, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. When she is taken advantage of by her tutor — a great friend of her father’s — and is set up to marry a squeamish snob named Simeon Onions, she begins to realize just how powerless she is in Georgian society. Anne is watchful, cunning, and bored.
Her saviour appears in the form of Fub, the butcher’s boy. Their romance is both a great spur and an excitement. Anne knows she is doomed to a loveless marriage to Onions and she is determined to escape with Fub and be his mistress. But will Fub ultimately be her salvation or damnation? And how far will she go to get what she wants?
Dark and sweeping, The Butcher’s Hook is a richly textured debut featuring one of the most memorable characters in fiction.
Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890’s, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.
They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners’ agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.
Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.
Categories: Adult Fiction