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Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Tracy Chevalier

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2,0331673,292 (3.9)340
Title:Remarkable Creatures
Authors:Tracy Chevalier
Info:HarperCollins (2009), Kindle Edition, 357 pages

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Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (2009)

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English (157)  Spanish (5)  French (5)  Italian (2)  All languages (169)
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)
I am a long time fan of Ms. Chevalier because she can literally transport the reader to whatever era she is writing about. She does it again with this book, taking us to a cold and lonely stretch of beach in search of “curies”. Mary Anning is our heroine and we follow her as she grows up in a time when poverty was rampant, society was sexist, and women were supposed to know their place. Striking up an unlikely friendship with older spinster Elizabeth Philpot does not help Mary’s place in life or society but gives her the courage and stamina to face whatever life throws in her way. At the same time Mary takes some of the stuffing out of Elizabeth’s biting tongue and prim ways. Although the themes of the book; religious doctrine, poverty, inequality of both gender and class and are not new, Ms. Chevalier does weave an interesting and entertaining story around them. I remain a fan. ( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
I found this engaging, but you may not. I do think it depends, to a large extent, on whether the subject matter itself interests you. I also found it helpful that the siblings of the two main characters were interesting, and Mary's mother even more so. And I appreciated that it wasn't overly bleak - the sexism and classism were frustrating, of course, but authentic.

Despite the author's note, I'm not sure how much was invented and how much documented, but I don't care. This is a novel, and I enjoyed it as such.

Some details I liked were sister Louise's hatred of hydrangeas, and sister Margaret being scolded for thinking that real life could be made to resemble her popular novels by authors like Miss [Jane] Austen. And Elizabeth's observation, "isn't fashion meant to entertain?" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Probably in the character of the times, but all the dithering about women taking a walk on their own, or having any muss, completely spoiled for me this tale of a woman fossil hunter. ( )
  juniperSun | Feb 10, 2015 |
Loved the background story to Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Made Lyme Regis come even more alive ( )
  pamjw | Dec 9, 2014 |
Book Club 2010, 5th book our choice
  deirdrebrown | Nov 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 157 (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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When Mary Anning uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home on the English coast, she sets the religious fathers on edge, the townspeople to vicious gossip, and the scientific world alight. Luckily, Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, and in the struggle to be recognized in the wider world, Mary and Elizabeth discover that friendship is their greatest ally.… (more)

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