Sarah Perry: Enlightenment

Tuesday 30 April
Norwich Cathedral
19.30 - 21.00
£ 12.00 - £10.00 conc

Sarah Perry, the internationally bestselling author of Melmoth and The Essex Serpent, launches her highly anticipated new novel with us in the beautiful surroundings of Norwich Cathedral.


Enlightenment is a story of love and astronomy told over the course of twenty years through the lives of two improbable best friends. Heralded as ‘a complete masterwork’ by Sarah Hall (author of The Electric Michelangelo) and ‘a beautiful, memorable novel’ by the Observer, it is a thrillingly ambitious novel of friendship, faith, and unrequited love.

This exclusive pre-publication launch event will include an audience Q&A and will be followed by a book signing. Books will be available to buy on the evening (two days ahead of official publication), provided by The Book Hive.


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, and whose startling astronomical discoveries may never have been acknowledged. 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.

Wheelchair access

The South Transept door offers a level access route into the building. Alternatively a lift is available for wheelchair users just inside the North West door in the Cathedral (This is the door to the left hand side of the large west door.)

Find out more about accessibility in Norwich Cathedral →

In partnership with Norwich Cathedral.

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. Image © Sophie Davidson