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Remarkable Creatures
Remarkable Creatures
Author: Tracy Chevalier
On the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast, poor and uneducated Mary Anning learns that she has a unique gift: "the eye" to spot fossils no one else can see. When she uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious community on edge, the townspeople to gossip, and the scient...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780452296725
ISBN-10: 0452296722
Publication Date: 10/26/2010
Pages: 320
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 102 ratings
Publisher: Plume
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 36 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I can see why this story can be thought of as boring it is a subtle story. It's about friendship that exists in the absence of the friends themselves. It describes the tedious effort it takes to work with fossils and that it takes to make a friendship between introverts. The title, Remarkable Creatures, refers to the monster fossils excavated from English beaches in the early 19th century. It also refers to the two main characters - Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Mary's a small town oddball yet widely known as lucky and, eventually, talented fossil hunter. Elizabeth is a fellow oddball but is well-read and well-connected. The characters of Mary and Elizabeth are real characters, known to history because the dinosaur and fish specimens they contributed to British and French science institutions. But the core of Chevaliers story is their friendship and their loneliness. In this story, evolution is a both a theme and a force. As a theme, evolution is introduced into public opinion as Marys fossils spark discussions about extinction. As a force, evolution exists in Elizabeths and Marys private relationship. Their friendship evolves they part ways but cant forget each other - and each womans reputation changes as they carry out separate (yet connected) lives. There are layers in Chevaliers style and they can be hard to spot much like the fossils and geology in which her story is rooted.
canadianeh avatar reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 242 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Although written as if it were fiction, this is the story of two women of Victorian England who were fascinated by fossils they found at Lyme Regis. Despite all the prejudices against them, scientific and religious, they gained recognition for their important insights into early paleontology. So well written! About an era and a science that I find fascinating: I was sorry when it was finished. Mary Anning's tale is particularly amazing: very poor and lacking education, her passion for these ancient creatures is remarkable.
reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 75 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I found this a charming and interesting book about a nineteenth century English woman's ability to find fossils on the beach and how her discoveries began the chain of understanding of evolution which is still being advanced today. Mary Anning was a real person whom Tracy Chevalier has brought to life for her readers, along with her friend and fellow fossil hunter Elizabeth Philpot. I highly recommend this book.
njmom3 avatar reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 1355 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book is a fictionalized account based in historical facts about the discovery of Jurassic age fossils. It presents a remarkable story about two women responsible for changing the course of scientific thinking about the history of the earth. It shows an interesting picture of the society at that time dealing with how the class structure and how being a female kept the women out of where their discoveries led. The book also has an underlying discussion of evolution v. theology and how the two can be reconciled. The characters and setting are fascinating and draw you into the story. Aside from the history, the story has a haunting quality about it that makes for good reading.
reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Chevalier has done it again. Her literary style is very pleasing and easy to read. On par with "Girl With a Pearl Earring." Based on the lives of two real women, it's a great story of friendship and women's struggle in general to be accepted as men's equals during the nineteenth century.
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reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 77 more book reviews
Having read The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Fallen Angels, I looked forward to reading Remarkable Creatures. I was not disappointed. Chevalier chooses historical events and eras that interest me. Her plots, descriptions, dialog, and characters paint a vivid picture. If you prefer your books with fast paced action (i.e., car crashes, explosions, etc.), this is not the book for you. I loved it.
reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 29 more book reviews
Loved it. The depiction of two real but almost forgotten women is superb.
wantonvolunteer avatar reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 84 more book reviews
I love a good historical-fiction, but have always been squeamish about the kind relating to famous royalty, or JFK for example; it's like I don't want stuff that could be on a test getting warped by popular entertainment. But Tracy Chevalier gets around this by digging up subject matter that most would not be aware of without her having popularized it, and in such an entertaining way, in this case with catastrophically under-represented women in science, genius move!

In the early 1800s, Elizabeth Philpot studied and collected fish fossils, and in the same region (Lyme Regis in England's West Dorcet region) Mary Anning dug up prehistoric oddities that attracted the attention and/or ire of London's Geological Society, eminent French naturalist Georges Cuvier, and the religious community at large - two women, from very different walks of life, who shared an obsession with nature and knowledge. Author Chevalier may have taken artistic liberties with the timeline and the women's relationship, but so artfully and harmlessly.
ruthk479 avatar reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 3 more book reviews
I read this book a year ago and the characters still remain fresh in my mind. Ms. Chevalier has a remarkable gift for creating scenes and people that intrigue and delight and sometimes shock you. In addition, I loved learning about the fossils that were found and the early speculations as to what type of creatures they may have been. I look forward to more of her writings!
mp3359 avatar reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 13 more book reviews
Loved this book...story line is of interest as well as the main subject of fossil-finding and the position of women (or lack thereof) in the scientific community of Regency England. Highly recommend!
reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 3 more book reviews
This story of the discovery of dinosaur fossils by a poor, uneducated English girl and the woman of a higher class who befriends her seemed really true to the time period. I found the parts about how the discoveries affected and contradicted the general beliefs of the day very interesting. The women in the story did seem very trapped as much by society's expectations as their own inability to change. Overall, it was nice to find a good story about something I had never read about before.
Shervivor avatar reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 97 more book reviews
I enjoyed this book that was different than the generic historical fiction novel. Chevalier brings to life two women from the past: Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, who met each other upon the beaches of Lyme Regis in England. The subject matter may not appeal to some as this isn't the usual novel of women in the 19th century being kept from true love by their circumstances but eventually overcoming all obstacles to settle down to an enriching life. No, this is the story of two women that went against the traditional roles applied to women of the time. Mary and Elizabeth were fascinated by the fossils they found along the beach and in the cliffs of Lyme Regis.

Chevalier manages to bring us into their world. A world where a friendship built upon a hobby very unbecoming of women of their day results in the discovery of creatures that were extinct and unknown at the time.

As a person that enjoys hunting for fossils and imagining what the world was once like I was drawn into the story of Mary and Elizabeth. If you are looking for love and romance skip this novel. If you are interested in the fascinating story of two very real women that changed the way humans viewed the history of the earth than this book is for you.
isitfriday avatar reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 170 more book reviews
I loved this book! such an intersting story, well told, interesting and i feel smarter having read it!