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Remarkable Creatures: A Novel Paperback – October 26, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Remarkable Creatures is told in the first person narratives of two women in Lyme-Regis, on the Southwest coast of England. Mary Anning is the poor daughter of a cabinet maker and a laundress, while Elizabeth Philpot is a spinster two decades Mary's senior. Elizabeth and her two sisters, Louise and Margaret, have just moved to Lyme-Regis, their fortunes having decreased to the point where although they are of an elevated social status, their newly married brother can no longer support them in London. Chance brings these two women from different generations and social classes together, and through their mutual love of fossils they become unlikely friends. They tell their stories in alternating chapters as they flirt with love, hunt for fossils on the desolate cliffs and beaches of the southwest coast, and struggle to find their place in a society in which they are constrained by both their gender and their social status.
Chevalier has a gift for putting the reader squarely in another time and place and making them come alive. She also has the ability to delve into the workings of a trade as she did so skillfully in The Lady and the Unicorn (weaving) and Girl With a Pearl Earring (painting), here taking us into the workings of fossil hunting and preservation.Read more ›
"Remarkable Creatures" is a tale of the remarkable fossils uncovered by a remarkable woman, Mary Anning, who, with the help of a long and remarkable friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, earned the credit she richly deserved. The tale is a fictionalized account of Anning's life and of her friendship with Philpot, and the author does acknowledge that she took some artistic license. Still, I think Chevalier has done a wonderful job of drawing attention to a woman who was, for me, an unknown historical figure. Yet, without Anning, a lot of what we now know about the creation of the world and the extinction of its ancient creatures may never have come to light.
Chevalier does a fine job of giving voice to Mary. Though Mary never received a formal education, Chevalier shows how Mary educated herself. The contrast between Mary's enlightenment and the reluctance of other, more learned people to accept the truths she uncovers is interesting. I found it interesting to speculate on whether some of the most esteemed minds of the time would have arrived at the scientific truths that we now take for granted, had it not been for the integral part Mary played in their uncovering.
Equally interesting to me was the character of Elizabeth Philpot.Read more ›
In "Remarkable Creatures" Chevalier has done a good job of taking real historical figures and crafting an interesting story around them. I had never heard of either Anning or Philpot, but I actually had seen some of the collections of fossils they contributed to at the British Museum. The novel quickly introduces you to these two women and their world, and does a good job of helping you to see the world through their eyes. I thought the most interesting dynamic of the story was how the men treated Philpot and Anning, especially how they were considered just "hunters" not real scientists because they were women. Some of the novel, particularly the love stories and jealousy did seem a bit forced, but not so much so that they ruined the rest of the story.
I would recommend this book to readers interested in women's lives during the early 19th century and to general fans of historical fiction. It was well done and an interesting quick read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lovely novel about Mary Anning who is credited for finding the first Icthyosaur. That same Ichthyosaur may be seen on display at the Natural History Museum in London. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Az
Mary Anning is one figure from the past I would love sit down with and ask a hundred questions to. She has become a favorite name from history to read and learn about after I was... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Elspeth G. Perkin
This is an excellent book that sheds light on a part of history I knew little about! The story is well told and all the better once you realize that it is about real people!Published 1 month ago by M Campbell
It started out slow for me, and I was hesitant to read on. But I'm so glad I did. An intriguing story with well developed characters who evolve over the years. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Carol Runge
A wonderful historical novel about 2 women who followed their interests despite conventions of the dayPublished 2 months ago by Margie Mintz