Saturday, July 23, 2011

Remarkable Creatures

I just finished Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. It also is a story loosely based on real characters. Born in 1799 young Mary Anning survived being struck by lightning as a baby, and appeared to be an unusual young girl.  She had a knack for finding fossils along the cliffs and beaches of Lyme Regis.  One day she met a young spinster, Elizabeth Philpot, who had moved to Lyme with her sisters.  Mary and Elizabeth shared an interest in searching the beaches and cliffs for fossils.  Elizabeth was more interested in fish fossils, while Mary searched more for other fossils.  They learned from each other and spent hours each searching in silence, but with each other, developing a lifelong friendship. They were from two very different worlds, yet their common interest forged genuine caring for each other.  Mary discovered dinosaur fossils and set the geological world upside down with her finds, although most of the men of that time were very reluctant to acknowledge that a woman had accomplished what she had.

The book is a great example of friendship between women and what great things were accomplished by women in a field that women had dared not enter!  I quite enjoyed this book!

 From an interview of the author about Remarkable Creatures (taken from the Barnes and Noble website):

"In one corner of the museum there was a small display about a woman named Mary Anning. In 1811 she and her brother found a complete specimen of an ichthyosaur, an ancient marine reptile which no one knew had even existed. (They thought it was a crocodile.) The discovery of such a creature challenged commonly held beliefs about the creation of the world. At that time there was no concept of extinction -- it would have been considered blasphemous to suggest that God might have created animals that He then allowed to die out as if they were mistakes.

Mary had no idea of the controversy her "crocodile" would set off. She was simply finding and selling fossils to make a living. That was what drew me to her story: she was a working-class woman holding her own among middle-class male scientists. There was something special about her -- underlined by the fact that she survived being struck by lightning as a baby. Indeed, some suggested that made her more intelligent."


Bybee said...

This is one I've had my eye on. Thanks for the review.

Bybee said...

I so want to read this!