Enlightenment: A Novel (Hardcover)
A dazzling new work of literary fiction from the author of The Essex Serpent, a story of love and astronomy told over the course of twenty years through the lives of two improbable best friends.
Thomas Hart and Grace Macaulay have lived all their lives in the small Essex town of Aldleigh. Though separated in age by three decades, the pair are kindred spirits—torn between their commitment to religion and their desire to explore the world beyond their small Baptist community.
It is two romantic relationships that will rend their friendship, and in the wake of this rupture, Thomas develops an obsession with a vanished nineteenth-century astronomer said to haunt a nearby manor, and Grace flees Aldleigh entirely for London. Over the course of twenty years, by coincidence and design, Thomas and Grace will find their lives brought back into orbit as the mystery of the vanished astronomer unfolds into a devastating tale of love and scientific pursuit. Thomas and Grace will ask themselves what it means to love and be loved, what is fixed and what is mutable, how much of our fate is predestined and written in the stars, and whether they can find their way back to each other.
A thrillingly ambitious novel of friendship, faith, and unrequited love, rich in symmetry and symbolism, Enlightenment is a shimmering wonder of a book and Sarah Perry’s finest work to date.
About the Author
Sarah Perry is the internationally bestselling author of The Essex Serpent, Melmoth, and After Me Comes the Flood. She lives in England.
“A novel to relish: a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author.” — Sarah Waters on The Essex Serpent
“A novel of almost insolent ambition—lush and fantastical, a wild Eden behind a garden gate...it’s part ghost story and part natural history lesson, part romance and part feminist parable. I found it so transporting that 48 hours after completing it, I was still resentful to be back home.” — New York Times on The Essex Serpent
“Richly enjoyable...Ms. Perry writes beautifully and sometimes agreeably sharply...The Essex Serpent is a wonderfully satisfying novel. Ford Madox Ford thought the glory of the novel was its ability to make the reader think and feel at the same time. This one does just that.” — Wall Street Journal
“The most delightful heroine since Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice…Perry creates that delicate illusion of the best historical fiction: an authentic sense of the past—its manners, ideals and speech—that feels simultaneously distant and relevant to us…By the end, The Essex Serpent identifies a mystery far greater than some creature ‘from the illuminated margins of a manuscript’: friendship.” — Washington Post
“The sumptuous twists and turns of Perry’s prose invite close reading, as deep and strange and full of narrative magic as the Blackwater itself. Fans of Sarah Waters, A.S. Byatt, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things should prepare to fall under Perry’s spell and into her very capable hands. Stuffed with smarts and storytelling sorcery, this is a work of astonishing breadth and brilliance.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The Essex Serpent