Enlightenment

Enlightenment

Summary

A story of love and astronomy told over the course of twenty years through the lives of two improbable best friends

‘Extraordinary' OBSERVER
‘A genre-bending novel of ideas’ TELEGRAPH
‘A book with cosmic reach' FINANCIAL TIMES
‘Gorgeous... Ethereal’ GUARDIAN
'Sarah Perry just gets better and better' INDEPENDENT

Thomas Hart and Grace Macauley are fellow worshippers at the Bethesda Baptist chapel 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 for more. But their friendship is threatened by the arrival of love.

Thomas falls for James Bower, who runs the local museum. Together they develop an obsession with the vanished nineteenth-century female astronomer Maria Veduva, said to haunt a nearby manor. Inspired by Maria, and the dawning realisation James may not reciprocate his feelings, Thomas finds solace studying the night skies. Could astronomy offer as much wonder as divine or earthly love?

Meanwhile Grace meets Nathan, a fellow sixth former who represents a different, wilder kind of life. They are drawn passionately together, but quickly pulled apart, casting Grace into the wider world and far away from Thomas.

In time, the mysteries of Aldleigh are revealed, bringing Thomas and Grace back to each other and to a richer understanding of love, of the nature of the world, and the sheer miracle of being alive.

Reviews

  • Gauzy and unhurried, a genteel novel of inner space. It’s luxuriously – defiantly – old-fashioned... Perry has always produced gorgeous prose, and she has found a new, ethereal register in this book
    Guardian

About the author

Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry is the internationally best-selling author of the novels Melmoth, The Essex Serpent and After Me Comes the Flood, and the non-fiction Essex Girls. She is a winner of the Waterstone’s Book of the Year Award and the British Book of the Year Award and has been nominated for major literary prizes including the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Folio Prize and the Costa Novel Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has a PhD in Creative Writing.
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