March 11, 2011

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Last year as part of my 100 in 2010 challenge (which I never did complete), I picked up my first novel by Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring because it fit in with my historical fiction category. I was underwhelmed by the book and probably wouldn't have picked up another one of her novels if I hadn't been contacted with an opportunity to review Remarkable Creatures.

I just finished Remarkable Creatures and can't quite explain what I think about the book. I was trying to give my mom a quick summary of the book and just couldn't do it. It's a book centered around two women - Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot - who are both fossil hunters, which I know doesn't sound like the most interesting topic but for some reason it was. The book is set in the 1800s and follows these two women through their life as they search for fossils and to find a place where they each belong in the world.

Maybe it was because the women were so very different from each other yet brought together by this common interest, or maybe it was the way Chevalier brought in additional themes like extinction and evolution when Mary found a creature that no one had ever seen before and women's rights when Elizabeth Philpot was refused admittance to a men's only meeting. Or maybe it was just the fact that this was so out of my realm of knowledge that everything was new to me. I'm not sure what it was, but I enjoyed the book and it kept me wondering what would happen next. The best part was at the very end in the author's note, something I'll let you find for yourself.

Overall a good read that is much more than just two women who spend their days searching for and discussing fossils. And not to sound cheesy, but the book itself was a little bit like a fossil for me - something great and unexpected buried inside of something that appears nothing more than ordinary. 4 stars

More Info about Remarkable Creatures from Tracy Chevalier


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