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.
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.
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.
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.
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.