Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier

Mary Anning was struck by lightning when she was a baby.  Since then it’s been said she was touched with greatness.

She hunts fossils on the beaches by her home in Lyme, England.  Elizabeth Philpot and her sisters have recently moved from London to Lyme.  Elizabeth meets Mary when visiting her father’s cabinet shop wanting a cabinet to fill with the fossils she finds on the beaches.  She gets to know Mary by going with her and learning about the fossils they find and Mary sells to help her family.  Mary’s family is poor and need every bit of money.

You can always find the spinster and the young child on the beaches hunting fossils when they come across one quite larger than the small ones they usually find.  One that somewhat resembles a crocodile.

The small town is shaken with this discovery, as some think it is evil and shouldn’t be talked about.  Some want it for their own collections; where they claim they were the ones that find it as their own, when it was Mary and Elizabeth.

This relationship that Mary and Elizabeth have is mutual admiration, loyalty, and supressed envy that the 2 share.  As Mary begins to become famous for her finds, Elizabeth is left on the wayside; the geological society leaves both of them behind, since there are only men allowed into the society, men that have been published with finds and theories.

I am on the fence with this book.  At first, it didn’t really evoke any sort of feelings for any of the characters.  It just seemed to run flat for me.  The discoveries were and are very much real, later on to be finally published in books with the names of Mary since she was the original person who found them to begin with I think was a huge victory for women in that time who wanted to be finally accepted into the world as men always had been.

Remarkable Creatures will be available to purchase on January 5th, 2010.

Tracy’s Website

Penguin Books / Dutton


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