Friday, April 19, 2013

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Mary Anning is a poor, working class woman living in Lyme Regis, England, a beach community. Elizabeth Philpot is a spinster with a passion for fish fossils.  Together they hunt fossils along the beach and find many varieties that were previously undiscovered.   Their friendship is tested by a fossil collector from London and questions raised about the authenticity of Mary Anning’s finds.   The novel begins in 1804, a time when women were not allowed out alone and their contributions to science were attributed to men.  Both of these women did live in Lyme Regis in the early nineteenth century and made valuable contributions to the study of fossils, though they were unacknowledged at the time.  Tracy Chevalier succeeds in making fossils fascinating with a novel that makes the beaches of England come to life.  From the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, Remarkable Creatures is a richly drawn historical tale that brings little known people from famous moments in history vividly alive.