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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
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 11 days ago by Mima J. Meaney
Interesting perspective on real women who were obsessively involved in searching for fossils before it became acceptable for women to be respected in that field of science. Read morePublished 15 days ago by karrengrammer
Interesting real-life description of what it was like to discover large fossils when you were a woman and when the very existence of fossils was viewed as in conflict with the... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Terry E. Hedrick
Tracy Chevalier is amazing. She took a subject I had absolutely no interest in & got me hooked. Not only that, the day after I finished the book one of the author's main... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alice Kieren
Tracy Chevalier is one of my favorite authors and she completely lives up to expectations with this novel. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Yeltrab
Good story with information I've never thought of before. Wonderful insight to a different class of life.Published 2 months ago by Joan W. Thomas
I read this novel a number of years ago and enjoyed it immensely but following a recent visit to Lyme Regis I decided to re-read it - so glad I did, it's brilliantPublished 2 months ago by Mrs. S. Whitehead