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Remarkable creatures
2010
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Mary Anning (Female), Struck by lightening; can see things, others can't
Genre
Fiction
Historical
Topics
Friendship
Female friendships
Supernatural beings
History
Prejudice
British culture
Setting
England - Europe
Time Period
1800s -- 19th Century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

In early 1800s England, unmarried women of the upper classes were often relegated to the fringes of society, where they could find a polite way to spend their days; those of the lower classes had even fewer options. This work, based on a true story, portrays two women from these diverse backgrounds who share a fascination with fossils. Mary Anning is an impoverished girl with a gift for finding prehistoric skeletons along the coast, which also interest genteel spinster Elizabeth Philpot. She recognizes Mary's talent as she also understands the enormous implications of the specimens uncovered, for this was before Darwin, when the concept of extinction was unknown, and it was blasphemous to consider that some of God's creatures may have been flawed. Over time, both women strive for scientific credibility, love, and financial stability, with varying degrees of success. Verdict Superbly creating a unique setting, as she did in The Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier captures the atmosphere of a chilly, blustery coast and an oppressive social hierarchy in real Dickensian fashion. Readers of historical fiction will enjoy this fascinating tale of rustic paleontology. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/09.]-Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

The discoveries of fossils on the beaches of Lyme Regis, England, in the 19th century rocked the world and opened the minds of scientists to the planet's unimaginable age and the extinction of species. Though attributed to men of consequence, the first remarkable finds were made by the poor working-class Anning family-and their young daughter, Mary. Chevalier wraps the history with a tale of the friendship between Mary and Elizabeth Philpot, a gentlewoman also fascinated by the creatures of stone, in a time when women were thought to be ill-suited to the work or incapable of understanding the scope of their finds. Each of these two characters tells a first-person story, and Susan Lyons gives Elizabeth Philpot the diction, reserve, subdued tones, and poise expected of a gentlewoman and shades her with idiosyncrasies, passions, and palpable loneliness. Charlotte Parry is convincing as a callow, coarse Mary Anning, and listeners will witness her gradual maturing and refinement as the story unfolds. The quality audio production enhances Chevalier's picturesque historical novel. A Dutton hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 28). (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
<br> A voyage of discoveries, a meeting of two remarkable women, and extraordinary time and place enrich bestselling author Tracy Chevalier's enthralling new novel <br> <br> From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear that Mary Anning is marked for greatness. On the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast, she learns that she has "the eye"--and finds what no one else can see. When Mary uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious fathers on edge, the townspeople to vicious gossip, and the scientific world alight. In an arena dominated by men, however, Mary is barred from the academic community; as a young woman with unusual interests she is suspected of sinful behavior. Nature is a threat, throwing bitter, cold storms and landslips at her. And when she falls in love, it is with an impossible man.<br> <br> Luckily, Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a recent exile from London, who also loves scouring the beaches. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy. Ultimately, in the struggle to be recognized in the wider world, Mary and Elizabeth discover that friendship is their greatest ally.<br> <br> Remarkable Creatures is a stunning novel of how one woman's gift transcends class and social prejudice to lead to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century. Above all, is it a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship.<br> <br> <br> <br> Watch a Video
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