Enlightenment by Sarah Perry

Enlightenment by Sarah Perry

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Enlightenment is a story 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 for more. But their friendship is threatened by the arrival of romantic love.

Thomas falls for James Bower, who runs the local museum. Together they develop an obsession with the vanished nineteenth-century astronomer said to haunt a nearby manor, and whose identity might finally be revealed when a startling discovery is made. As Thomas fears a broken heart, he comes to find solace in astronomy: might it offer as much as earthly or even divine love? Meanwhile Grace meets Nathan, a fellow sixth former. They are drawn recklessly 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 their place in it.

This ambitious novel about love and faith and science is Sarah Perry's finest work to date.