The Essex Serpent and The Loney Reviewed

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Parry; this was one of our book choices as Sarah Perry is a guest at Derby Book Festival later this month.

There was mixed emotions about this novel. Most people really enjoyed aspects of this book but everyone felt something was lacking. The group agreed it was jam-packed but for some this was a bone of contention whilst for others it was the reason they loved it. Here are our overall thoughts:

Fiona liked it but was disappointed it didn’t live up to the reviews. She described it as interesting but with faults, “the characters weren’t fleshed out enough and there were a lot of loose ends. I found parts of it fascinating though.” 8/10

Clare didn’t like this book; she said “too much was happening yet nothing in turn happened. The connection between the characters didn’t feel right and there wasn’t a proper story line.”

Phil enjoyed it as a good historical novel, commenting “for a short book it covered a lot”. Phil agreed some of the characters lacked depth however he thoroughly enjoyed the factual references used throughout and is looking forward to reading another of Sarah Perry’s books.

Sue was not grabbed, “it lacked substance and there were too many characters. The author should have restricted them; it was very decorative writing with a subtle way of switching through the mind of the characters. However, with no meaty characters and lacking a story line it was hard work 6/10

Stephen described it nicely as a relationship book stating, “Sarah Parry has a first class writing style.” Stephen disagreed with some of the groups thoughts regarding character relationships in the book; he enjoyed the characters relationships describing them as “being developed to a high level. Her research was second to none, covering topics of the time such as the first heart surgery carried out, TB, socialism, and medicine, social conditions at the time, religion and superstition all extremely well described.” Stephen actually googled some of the places the author referred to in her book and found them, one of them being a hotel you can stay actually in.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart;

No one in the group felt this was the best book they had read on the topic of autism. Mostly it was considered an easy read, but with elements that stick with you long after reading.

Heather read it in 2 and half days. She described the relationships around Sam, the boy with autism, very well: his relationship with a selfish Dad who left his mum when things got too hard, the difficulty Sam had making friends, and how playing a game called Minecraft helped him connect with the world and those around him. Heather enjoyed it and described it as an easy read 7/10

Susan thought it was O.K, readable but not gripping at any point. Overwhelmingly it made her want to play Minecraft. Susan felt it was about a family’s slog through life which doesn’t make for a particularly interesting read 5/10

Phil described it as a weak David Nicholls, “A good enough story but somewhat contrived”. He felt the male character was weak and unlikable, “a book for the beach but nothing revolutionary” 5/10

Next month there has been a change to the choices as we realised we couldn’t get hold of one the books. We have opted to read one of the following:

Thursday 29th June

: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

We have also been on a few theatre trips last month which we talked about; Frazzled at Derby Theatre was brilliant if anyone gets chance to see her I would recommend it.

There is also a theatre visit planned for the 21st of June at Nottingham Playhouse. For those who fancy coming along, email Stephen at

Hopefully see you on June the 29th to find out what you thoughts are on this month’s choices.

Remember there is loads of amazing events happening over the book festival week. Have a look and get involved!


CUBE café|bar Manager



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