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A haunting mystery: Enlightenment, by Sarah Perry, reviewed

The story of the disappearance from an Essex manor house of a Romanian astronomer named Maria Vaduva starts to obsess a local journalist a century later

25 May 2024

9:00 AM

25 May 2024

9:00 AM

Enlightenment Sarah Perry

Jonathan Cape, pp.376, 20

As ghosts go, Maria Vaduva, who haunts Enlightenment, is not a patch on the wild, tormented figure who stalks the pages of Sarah Perry’s previous novel, Melmoth. Where Melmoth, in rage and despair, haunts everyone complicit in history’s horrors, Maria is crossly plaintive. The disappearance of this unrecognised 19th-century Romanian astronomer from Lowlands House, a manor in the fictional small Essex town of Aldleigh (where marriage has brought her), becomes the obsession of Thomas Hart.

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