- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Custom House; 1st US edition (June 6, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062666371
- ISBN-13: 978-0062666376
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 377 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 6, 2017
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Another dimension involves the differing perspectives of well-off, educated Londoners v. the classic rural villagers whose way of life has changed little over centuries. The central character, Cora, while refined is also interested in Darwin, evolutionary theory, and hunting fossils. Having just read and reviewed "Darwin's Women" I was not surprised as to this aspect since I had learned that a great many women had helped Darwin by doing the legwork necessary to collect the specimens and fossils upon which his work was in part based. Placed in the environment of Aldwinter village, Cora encounters the local, classic British parson with his flock--much better educated than was typical but yet devoted to religious concepts. The two go at it on several themes which illustrates this transition that occurred in England in the late 19th century., as evolution ran up against established religious and social norms. Cora believes the serpent may simply be a "living fossil"; the parson believes it just hysteria which should be dismissed, even though his flock disagrees.
Another interesting dimension involves several characters who are involved in improving impoverished living conditions in London, but with little success. Also present is a most interesting surgeon who has inventive ideas about heart surgery which the local medical authorities are most reluctant for him to undertake. I was surprised a bit at this since much medical progress in reality had been made during this period, the Wellcome Hospital being just one example. The success of his techniques only brings him tragedy.
The title suggests another major theme--sort of a scary monster story or is it? The author resolves the mystery not once but twice, and does so in a most inventive way. In the end, all these issues seem to settle down, though Cora for all her perception and intellectual resources remains a widow, though a fulfilled one. The author's style is most seductive and the novel really draws the reader in and demands continued turning of its 418 pages. I read that the author had become seriously ill recently and may not write any more novels. This is a tragedy for her and a great loss for us if no further works emerge from her. So read this unique and innovative novel and enjoy her while you can.