Food for Thought

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry


Late Victorian background with a dash of Gothic.

A generous helping of ideas: science v religion, advances in medicine, modernity, obsession with geology, palaeontology.

A feisty protagonist, the recently widowed Cora, who is rich, attractive and dresses like a bag lady.

A serpent / dragon who is real, metaphorical, folklore, depending on viewpoint.

A dollop of illicit sex.


Mix together with a lot of hype, an attractive cover and serve up as a multi prize winner. Not the most satisfying of dishes but fills a gap if you’re hungry enough.

Do Not Say We Have nothing Madeleine Thein

A hearty main course ( you will need time to munch your way through this ) made with a number of fresh and worthy ingredients – not least China’s Cultural Revolution – but ultimately very hard to digest even when consumed in small portions and periodically reheated.

So I am Glad A.L. Kennedy

An acquired taste, certainly not mine. To give you a flavour of this unusual concoction: Jennifer, whose real name is Mercy doesn’t show any when engaged in hard core S&M. Someone comes to live in her shared house who glows in the dark and turns out to be the reincarnation of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Black Water Louise Doughty

Not what you would have expected the author to serve up after the success of Appletree Yard but this is a mouth watering triumph. Again a psychological thriller but made to a different recipe with subtle aromas of Graham Greene and John Le Carre. Set in the context of the genocide in Indonesia in 1965 and the 1998 riots this is the story of the protagonist, John Harper’s, personal guilt and possible redemption as well as one of political intrigue and multinational double dealing. A dish baked to perfection, it’s one to savour.

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