book cover of Enlightenment
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A novel by

“Like A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Enlightenment is a baroque, genre-bending novel of ideas, ghosts and hidden histories. A richly layered epic....a heartfelt paean to the consolations of the sublime, where religion and science meet." -- Telegraph

"Read it, then read it again. This is a book full of unexpected wonders." -- Literary Review

From the author of The Essex Serpent, a dazzling novel 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. 

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Sarah Perry has the rare gift of committing the uncommittable to prose - that is to say: here is a writer who understands life." - Jessie Burton

"Enlightenment is a complete masterwork - ambitious, crafted, truly artful. With its intersections of faith, physics, love and wisdom, I imagine we will be quoting lines from the novel for years to come. It holds page after page of luminous prose, playful intelligence, storyteller's wit and companionship, and the rarest compassion. Like the comets within, the reader travels headlong through the book's darkness and beauty, alongside universal laws and mysteries, aligning with both human matter and spirit. Sarah Perry is an extraordinary maker, of unique mind, sensibility and gifts; her writing is, as ever, lit by sheer brilliance." - Sarah Hall

"Gorgeous, galvanic, omniscient, intimate and eminently giving, Enlightenment is a novel to live with and learn by. As I read it, I felt housed by it. And, damn, did the house have skylights. Sarah Perry is a national treasure, and this is her best book yet." - Caoilinn Hughes

"A book in which everything is kindled into light by Sarah Perry's rapt, luminous attention: friendship, betrayal, faith, astronomy, the drizzle on the streets of Essex and the heavens above them." - Francis Spufford

"Once again Sarah Perry has gifted us with an ambitious story impeccably imagined in poignant prose; a beautifully nuanced novel of love in all its aspects, artfully marrying faith and science into something truly beguiling." - Susan Stokes-Chapman

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