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Remarkable creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable creatures (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Tracy Chevalier

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Title:Remarkable creatures
Authors:Tracy Chevalier
Info:New York : Dutton, c2010.
Collections:Your library

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Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (2009)

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English (178)  Spanish (5)  French (5)  Italian (2)  All (190)
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
A quick, easy, interesting fictionalisation of two remarkable women. To see my review, please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2010/12/04/remarkable-creatures-by-tracy-chevalier/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Apr 20, 2017 |
A enjoyable read for me as I live in the area where the story is set. Although it is fiction the story is based around real life historical characters most notably Mary Anning a 19th century fossil hunter. Perfect for a summers day in the sunshine or a Lyme Regis beach read - and I learned a little bit about my local history and fossils too. ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Feb 6, 2017 |
This is the fictionalized story of two women fossil collector on the southern coast of England, their personal relationship and their connection to the science of the time. ( )
  gbelik | Jan 24, 2017 |
This stunning historical novel portrays love, friendship, and the tremendous forces of societal change in the early 1800's. Mary Anning discovers the fossil of an ancient marine reptile that impresses the scientific world and shakes the religious community.

Mary Anning finds the fossils the scientists can’t. It’s her special gift and passion. Will the male hierarchy and limitations of the times ever let her get the credit she deserves?
  mcmlsbookbutler | Nov 6, 2016 |
"We had heard about the girl struck by lightning, for people still talked of it years later. It was one of those miracles small towns thrive on: children seeming drowned then spurting out water like a whale and reviving; men falling from cliffs and reappearing unscathed; boys run down by coaches and standing up with only a scratched cheek. Such everyday miracles knit communities together, giving them their legends to marvel at. It had never occurred to me when I first met her that Mary might be the lightning girl. “Do you remember being struck?” Margaret asked. Mary shrugged , clearly uncomfortable with our sudden interest."

Many thanks to Autumn for introducing me to this alternative version of Harry Potter.

I am kidding, of course, but the thought of Mary Anning as a real-life HP using fossils as portkeys to be transported into a time so different that it might as well just be another world did appeal to me for quite some time.

Tracy Chevalier (author of Girl with a Pearl Earring) created a fictional account of the friendship of two women who not only existed in real life but who also changed natural history as we know it. And all this decades before Charles Darwin would publish that little known tome about the the origin of species.

So, who, I hear you ask, are the two women?

Well, the first one is Mary Anning, whom the Natural History Museum introduces as follows:

"The greatest fossil hunter ever known was a woman from Lyme Regis. Mary Anning's discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time. They provided evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth.
Mary Anning’s contribution had a major impact at a time when there was little to challenge the biblical interpretation of the story of creation and of the flood. The spectacular marine reptiles that Anning unearthed shook the scientific community into looking at different explanations for changes in the natural world. William Buckland, Henry de la Beche and William Conybeare were some of the many scientists who owe their achievements to her. By the time of her death, geology was firmly established as its own scientific discipline."

Not a bad feat for a woman who was a contemporary of Jane Austen's at a time when women were not allowed to contribute to scientific journals or indeed even enter the clubs and societies that were available for the scientifically minded.

What is even more astonishing is that Mary Anning had little education and spent most of her early years in abject poverty.

The second woman is Anning's friend, Elizabeth Philpot, an educated woman who, being a spinster, relocated with her sisters to Lyme Regis after the death of their father. In fact, reading her story strongly reminded me of the sisters in Sense and Sensibility - and yes there even is a military man who plays a crucial role in the lives of both women.
Anyway, spurned by the move to Lyme Regis, Elizabeth becomes a fossil collector, too, and befriends Mary.

"How can a twenty-five-year-old middle-class lady think of friendship with a young working girl? Yet even then, there was something about her that drew me in. We shared an interest in fossils, of course, but it was more than that . Even when she was just a girl, Mary led with her eyes, and I wanted to learn how to do so myself."

The story that Chevalier creates of the friendship of the two women is truly magnificent. The difference in age and class causes many obstacles for women to communicate and there are major rifts between them, which left me wondering how they would cope, how they would resolve their differences. And in the end, whether they would manage to be able to rely on each other when everything they had worked for was put at risk and depended on their friendship.

"I had discovered from conversations I’d had about fossils with the people of Lyme that few wanted to delve into unknown territory, preferring to hold on to their superstitions and leave unanswerable questions to God’s will rather than find a reasonable explanation that might challenge previous thinking. Hence they would rather call this animal a crocodile than consider the alternative: that it was the body of a creature that no longer existed in the world. This idea was too radical for most to contemplate. Even I, who considered myself open-minded, was a little shocked to be thinking it, for it implied that God did not plan out what He would do with all of the animals He created. If He was willing to sit back and let creatures die out, what did that mean for us? Were we going to die out too?"

Review first posted at http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/1128421/remarkable-creatures ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
Unless you have a deep and unabiding passion for fossils, you'll want to leave this specimen alone.
added by Shortride | editUSA Today, Donna Freydkin (Feb 2, 2010)
Giant marine reptiles are not the only remarkable creatures in this book. Chevalier turns a warming spotlight on a friendship cemented by shared obsession and mutual respect across profound class fissures; a friendship between two women who were indirectly responsible for several male careers and ultimately (partially, very indirectly) for Darwin's insights. She also gives it what Darwin himself considered mandatory in a novel, a happy ending - or happy enough.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chevalier, Tracyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lyons, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morahan, HattieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parry, CharlotteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is for my son, Jacob
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Lightning has struck me all my life.
'but dying was no drama. Dying was cold and hard and painful, and dull. It went on too long. I was exhausted and growing bored with it.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
From the moment she is struck by lightening as a baby, it is clear that Mary Anning is different. Though poor and uneducated, she discovers on the windswept beaches of the English coast that she has a unique gift: "the eye" to spot fossils that 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 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 uncommon 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.

Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster recently exiled from London, who shares her passion for 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.

Remarkable Creatures is a 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, it is a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship. [adapted from the jacket]
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Marked for greatness after being struck by lightning in infancy, Mary Anning discovers a fossilized skeleton near her 19th century home that triggers attacks on her character and upheavals throughout the religious, scientific, and academic communities.… (more)

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