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Remarkable Creatures (2009)
by Tracy Chevalier
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Mooi boek over de levens van twee vrouwelijke fossielenjagers, begin 19e eeuw. Gebaseerd op bestaande personen en feiten. Hun ontdekkingen brengen de godsdienstige overtuiging een ander perspectief. Schiep God de aarde in 6 dagen, of is "dag" de aanduiding van een langere periode? Waarom stierven sommige dieren uit? Een foutje in de schepping of een probeersel van God? ( )
When I started this book I wasn't sure it would be a page turner because it was about fossils. Chevalier has taken a true story of a woman never addressed in our history or science books when I was growing up. She found first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified. I would recommend this to everyone. Chevalier is a great writer who knows how to tell a story.
Historical fiction based on the lives of real people, amateur paleontologists Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning, in the early 1800s in Lyme Regis, England. Elizabeth is an educated lady who has relocated from London, and Mary is a working-class daughter of an impoverished cabinet maker. They become unlikely friends, bonding over their love of fossils and searching for them by the sea. When Mary unearths a skeleton of what appears to be a large crocodile, it ultimately leads to their interaction with well-known male paleontologists of the day.
The narrative alternates perspectives between Elizabeth and Mary. They are based on real people and Chevalier writes them into life, complete with obsessions and idiosyncrasies. The two women face a number of obstacles, including a male-dominated society that minimizes the role of women and church officials that do not support the concept of extinction. The reader can feel a sense of injustice when Mary is not even given credit for discovering the skeleton. The period is portrayed beautifully. I particularly liked how the authors shows the tremendous gap in scientific knowledge at the time the fossils are initially discovered.
This book weaves together history, science, unconventional women, and a solid storyline, so it is no surprise that I enjoyed it tremendously. It vividly portrays the thrill of discovery and inspired me to research the people behind the story. I have read three of Chevalier’s novels and this one is my favorite by far.
This was a reread for me, although this time I listened to it on audio. This reminds me of a cross between a Jane Austen novel and a more serious science essays. In between reads, I'd forgot about many of the details in the story. I appreciated reaquainting myself with the different types of fossils in the Lyme-Regis area and had to remind myself parts of the story were based on actual female fossil collectors, Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning. Evidently the two were actually friends, but since there isn't an author's note, I'm clueless as to how much of the story was true and how much was fictionalized.
Rating: 4 stars
Original Publication Date: 2009
Notes: Biographical historical fiction. Excellent on audio.
A pleasant surprise. A fact based story, promoting two under represented women who led in their fields when only men were allowed a scientific interest. Well written, not too slow, not too detailed.
Unless you have a deep and unabiding passion for fossils, you'll want to leave this specimen alone.
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.
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Wikipedia in English (1)
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.
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Tracy Chevalier's book Remarkable Creatures was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.