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  • Published: 30 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787335004
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $34.99


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

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.

  • Published: 30 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787335004
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $34.99

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.

Praise for Enlightenment

A book about grace, written with a faith in awe and in elemental love, Enlightenment is full of both ordinary and extraordinary wonders. Sarah Perry has brought all her wide empathy and joy to this novel: its characters are rich and vivid and tenderly human. Enlightenment is not only a book that seems to redeem its world, but to redeem its readers. It is a gift

Seán Hewitt, author of All Down Darkness Wide

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, author of Pandora

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, author of Orchid and the Wasp

Attuned to the fragile intimacies between lovers and friends, and acutely aware of the devastating cruelties that are routinely meted out between strangers, Enlightenment is a mesmerizing work of wondering and wonder. Filled with quiet epiphanies into the intricacies of the human condition filtered through the lens of science and religion, this is a profound and moving novel that invites the reader to regard the world around them with a more compassionate gaze

Mary Jean Chan, author of Flèche

A genre-bending novel of ideas, ghosts and hidden histories... A heartfelt paean to the consolations of the sublime, where religion and science meet


Sarah Perry just gets better and better… A fat, satisfying, grown-up novel – rich in plot, characters, ideas, structure, and atmosphere… It hangs together as a resplendent whole, shining like a night sky


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


No novel is ever perfect, but this one comes close. Read it, then read it again. This is a book full of unexpected wonders

John Burnside, author A Lie About My Father

A rich, surprising book that dazzles and dizzies the reader. It balances reason with belief, excels in both ideas and action, and, though firmly placed in Perry’s homeland of Essex, it’s a book with cosmic reach

Financial Times

Extraordinary and ambitious... What Perry has done in this layered, intelligent and moving book is to construct a kind of quantum novel, one that asks us to question conventional linear narratives and recognise instead what is ever-present in Perry’s luminous vision of Essex: truth, beauty and love


Perry has returned with another cracker. A dazzling novel, full of big ideas about religion and science, love and friendship


Tender, ruminative, philosophical

Times Literary Supplement

Dazzling… Faith and science can inspire out-of-time cosmic wonder, but as Perry beautifully demonstrates here, so, too, can the novel

Daily Mail

Gorgeously written… A beautiful, compassionate and memorable book, one that will repay reading more than once

New Scientist

With its lush prose and thought-provoking themes, Enlightenment reaffirms Perry's place as one of contemporary fiction's brightest stars