‘A stunning story’ Guardian
‘Vivid and engrossing’ Financial Times
I don’t remember there ever being a time when I weren’t out upon beach. Mam used to say the window was open when I was born, and the first thing I saw when they held me up was the sea.
Mary Anning may be young and uneducated, but she has “the eye”. Scouring the windswept Jurassic coast near Lyme Regis, she find the fossils nobody else can, making discoveries that will shake the scientific world of the early 19th century. But science is a male-dominated arena, and there are many who disapprove…
She finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot: unmarried, middle-aged and middle class, and a fellow fossil enthusiast. If they can weather differences in their age and standing, and overcome professional envy, will true friendship prove the rarest find of all?
‘A stunning story, compassionately reimagined’
‘Chevalier recently stated that making fossils sexy was one of her chief aims in writing Remarkable Creatures. With this very entertaining book, she has certainly succeeded’
‘An enthralling novel of female friendship and fossil hunting’
Woman and Home
‘Chevalier shows her skill for working history’s lost individuals into far-reaching fiction’
About the author
Tracy Chevalier is the author of five previous novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn and Burning Bright. Born in Washington, DC, she moved to London in 1984, where she lives with her husband and son. She has a website at www.tchevalier.com
Chevalier's newest is a flat historical whose familiar themes of gender inequality, class warfare and social power often overwhelm the story. Tart-tongued spinster Elizabeth Philpot meets young Mary Anning after moving from London to the coastal town of Lyme Regis. The two quickly form an unlikely friendship based on their mutual interest in finding fossils, which provides the central narrative as working-class Mary emerges from childhood to become a famous fossil hunter, with her friend and protector Elizabeth to defend her against the men who try to take credit for Mary's finds. Their friendship, however, is tested when Colonel Birch comes to Lyme to ask for Mary's help in hunting fossils and the two spinsters compete for his attention. While Chevalier's exploration of the plight of Victorian-era women is admirable, Elizabeth's fixation on her status as an unmarried woman living in a gossipy small town becomes monotonous, and Chevalier slows the story by dryly explaining the relative importance of different fossils. Chevalier's attempt to imagine the lives of these real historical figures makes them seem less remarkable than they are.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Pale nor Paleo
I was disappointed in this book. It has become popular to write fiction about the doings of minor, though not unimportant historical figures and this is a prime example. cleverly written in two voices and wearing its research lightly this book does not catch fire or warm my imagination. Nothing wrong with it just a bit dull.