The Victorian Age: Unbuttoned and Muddy
On nearly every page of The Essex Serpent, a dense and lengthy novel by Sarah Perry, ideas clash-- but in the civilized manner of the late-Victorian age, in fact, much of the weightiest discourse takes place by letter; science and faith; myth and reality; love and friendship; the monstrous and the absurd; city life and country living; politics and society; feminism and the male hegemony; poverty and wealth; sickness and vitality; medicine and quackery; etcetera, etcetera . . . and all this juxtaposition is couched in the language of the time period, so it's not exactly a beach read, but the prose is beautiful and gothic, and picks up in pace later in the story . . . many of the events are based on real happenings of the the time, and Perry lays her sources bare at the end; this book will change your view of the 1880s (if you had one) as it paints a picture of a world just on the edge of modernity, one boot in the 20th century and the other pulling out of the sucking mud of antiquity.