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Remarkable Creatures: A Novel Paperback – October 26, 2010
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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
Remarkable Creatures is the kind of historical fiction that lives with you. It’s history made accessible. Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Reddspace
This is a great story of a time when women were non-relevant to the world. Mary Anning proved them all wrong -- and did it only because she loved what she did.Published 7 days ago by Kindle Customer
I read this book a couple of years ago. It was selected for my book club this year and I was excited to read it again. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Cynthia J. Hook
I first leaned about Mary Anning through reading Stone Girl, Bone Girl to my dino-crazy son. Years later, my curiosity about Mary Anning was reawakened watching a David... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Heather J. Keimig
Take a real historical person that very little is known about, an historical period with certain values and expectation, then add the imagination of Tracy Chevalier, and POOF! Read morePublished 20 days ago by Esperanza Glass
There is no thrilling plot or steamy romance (which is fine by me) yet the author does a wonderful job of keeping the story interesting. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Jbk
Fun read for fossil lovers, I was told about this book by a person on the beach, enjoyed it.Published 23 days ago by MJ
I just loved the book and when I learned that the main characters and many others are real people it was even more interesting. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mima J. Meaney