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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 96 ratings
Publisher: Plume
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

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 + 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.
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 + 1141 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 + 6 more book reviews
I loved this book. I loved that it was such an unusual topic for a novel and yet Ms. Chevalier pulled it off. It sustained my interest, she developed her characters very well, and have a very authentic narrator. I love how this author takes historical information and weaves in the "backstory" context for what may have happened. In this one, I feel she was particularly successful putting the two(history and conjecture) side by side.
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.
reviewed Remarkable Creatures on + 32 more book reviews
I'm thank paperback swap every time I read a wonderful book like this! What a good read. One of this author's other books was made into a movie, I hope they will do it again because it was a great stor, based after real people and would make a great film.