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Remarkable Creatures

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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  25,159 ratings  ·  3,152 reviews
In 1810, a sister and brother uncover the fossilized skull of an unknown animal in the cliffs on the south coast of England. With its long snout and prominent teeth, it might be a crocodile – except that it has a huge, bulbous eye.

Remarkable Creatures is the story of Mary Anning, who has a talent for finding fossils, and whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles such as t
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 24th 2009 by Harper Collins (first published 2009)
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Karen If the 12 year old is interested in fossils, possibly. I would have enjoyed it at that age, although some of the interactions might be over her/his…moreIf the 12 year old is interested in fossils, possibly. I would have enjoyed it at that age, although some of the interactions might be over her/his head. No overt sexual instances (one that is mostly innuendo), language or violence.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Tadiana ♕Part-Time Dictator♕
I now know more than I ever expected to about fossil-collecting by English women during the Regency period.

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This historical novel is based on several people who actually lived, and either hunted or collected fossils, in England in the early 1800s. It alternates between the viewpoints of Elizabeth Philpot, a genteel spinster in reduced circumstances who moves to Lyme Regis by the sea (a hotbed for fossil-hunters) and discovers a passion for fossils, and Mary Anning, the daughter of a destitute cab
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: A voyage of discoveries, a meeting of two remarkable women, and extraordinary time and place enrich bestselling author Tracy Chevalier's enthralling new novel

From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear that Mary Anning is marked for greatness. On the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast, she learns that she has "the eye"—and finds what no one else can see. When Mary uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs
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Antje
I know, this book is not great literature but for some reasons I really enjoyed it and will count it to my favourite bokks. The story is about Mary Anning, who lived in Lyme Regis and since she was a girl uncovered fossils of at the time unknown creatures. Elisabeth Philpot, an educated woman from London,was forced to move to Lyme Regis with her sisters, because in the family was not enough money for all the sisters to marry. She started to hunt for fossils as well and despite their diffrent age ...more
BrokenTune
"We had heard about the girl struck by lightning, for people still talked of it years later. It was one of those miracles small towns thrive on: children seeming drowned then spurting out water like a whale and reviving; men falling from cliffs and reappearing unscathed; boys run down by coaches and standing up with only a scratched cheek. Such everyday miracles knit communities together, giving them their legends to marvel at. It had never occurred to me when I first met her that Mary might be ...more
Stephanie
Another winner by Chevalier...I had never heard of Mary Anning and as I read this, it again dawned on me how many women have been erased and disappeared from history because of sexism and male prejudice during the times they lived in...Anning was a major paleontologist who was completely self taught, living in poverty, and discovered several important prehistoric fossils from the Jurassic period that challenged the conventional thinking of the time about creation, the age of the earth, and survi ...more
Chrissie
Finished: I am glad that is over! I think I chuckled maybe once. The prose was stilted. I have never run into such a bunch of miserable souls. A huge disappointment. I absolutely adored this author's book Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Through page 183: Ahhhh, I am laughing. The two main woman characters are jealous of each other, and it's quite amusing. Of course a man is invoved. Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot are two real people and the two central characters of the book. The story is told alt
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Ann
I wish I had read this book, or learned something about Mary Anning, before I went to London. I saw her picture and the fossils she discovered at the Natural History Museum in London without ever realizing what a remarkable accomplishment it was. She was a poor, uneducated, working class girl whose family survived by selling "curies" (curiosities), small fossils found on the beach in Lyme Regis. She finds what she considers crocodiles with fins, but are really the first pterodactyl and ichthyosa ...more
Abby
What happens when you discover something that could change your worldview forever? Does the world stop?

No, of course not, life goes on, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Remarkable Creatures focuses on two women who search for fossils - one so she can eat, the other out of curiosity. When they find a fossil that contradicts religion's view of the origins of the earth, the practical appreciates the money and added business fame brings and the curious are concerned, dissatisfied by
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MomToKippy
Some of my favorite things about Remarkable Creatures:

1) Bathing machines!
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2) Fossils, of course.
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3) A regency era book about friendship between two women, rather than the marriage of some rehabilitated rake and some nubile.

4) Elizabeth's characterization of people based upon what feature they "lead" with - eyes, hair, hands.

5) Fossils!

I enjoyed this book a lot more after I came across some information about who Mary Anning really was. At first, I did not realize this was based on the stories of
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Natalie

"She sells seashells" . . . .

People have been trying to wrap their heads and words about the story of Mary Anning for a long time, including Tracy Chevalier here in Remarkable Creatures.

Remarkable Creatures doesn't have the same sure hand or intricately drawn world as Girl with a Pearl Earring, but Chevalier's own curiosity in her subject can not be doubted as you can see in this Tracy Chevalier ">BBC slide show narrated by Tracy Chevalier and this Barnes and Noble Studio beach walk intervie
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Candi
Remarkable Creatures is a beautifully written book about two remarkable women, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. A fictional account based on real-life characters and events, Remarkable Creatures is set in the early 1800’s in the coastal town of Lyme Regis, England. Poor, uneducated Mary Anning and middle-class, London-bred Elizabeth Philpot form what is considered an unconventional friendship, due to their differing social classes, based on their love of fossils and fossil hunting. Despite my ...more
Lisa
I am SO surprised that I liked this book. And I am completely FLOORED that I loved it.

When Sue said we were going to read a book about a spinster who collects fossils on an English beach in the 19th century for our next book club meeting, I was not thrilled. I kept putting it off because I had already decided that I wasn't going to like it. Well, here I am three days after I finally picked it up, and I have to say that it was a truly great read.

This is not a fast-moving story. The pace of the n
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Julie
One of my sister's gave me a newspaper article about this book when it was getting published. She knew that I was interested in anything about Mary Anning and wanted to make sure I would read "Remarkable Creatures".

Mary Anning was a fossil hunter in the early 1800's when scientists were just beginning to unlock the mysteries of those strange bones and fragments found on the beaches and cliffs of Lyme Regis. Elizabeth Philpot meets Mary Anning when she and her sisters moved to Lyme Regis. Mary sh
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Pierre Menard
Nov 18, 2014 Pierre Menard rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Who combs the beach looking for seashells.
Recommended to Pierre by: Roberta
Shelves: us-literature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kirby
Take one passionate writer of historical fiction and fan of strong female characters and pair her up with Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and you will create pure bliss. I adored this book! The writing is strong and honest and suggestive of the time and I was fascinated to learn how two "spare parts" (spinster women) made such a huge difference in the late 1800s' studies of paleontology. As a passionate beach comber myself I completely understand Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot's compu ...more
Kathryn
I've been curious to read a Chevalier novel, but none of the subjects really appealed to me. Enter "Remarkable Creatures"--a book that I was primed to love. England (check!), Dinosaurs (check!), The Ocean (check!), The Conflict Between Science and Religion (check!), Strong Women Doing Awesome Things Despite Their Obnoxiously Patriarchal Society (check!). Too, I'd recently read some picture book biographies of Mary Anning and loved the idea of a young girl making fabulous fossil discoveries for t ...more
Tigger
Remarkable Creatures is about the stories of two women (both actual historical figures) who live in a small town by the English seaside and share a passion for finding fossils - Elizabeth Philpot, a genteel if not very wealthy spinster, and Mary, a poor working girl whose family struggles to survive.
The book has many wonderful elements and delves into a fascinating piece of early scientific history, as scientists sought to understand the fossils they were finding and what they meant for their u
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Kate Z
This book had all the makings of a remarkable book: a female fossil hunter in the early 1800s whose contributions to paleontology have been overlooked; new science challenging long-held religious beliefs... As you delve into the book you realize how ground breaking the events of the novel are. If there were creatures buried in the earth that no longer lived on land that meant that God had made a mistake! Or that Genesis as they knew it didn't make sense - if God made Heaven and Earth first and t ...more
Boof
I loved this book so much I didn't want it to end.

Based on the real-life characters of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot in the early 19th century, this is a story of two pioneering women in the coastal town of Lyme Regis who discover some of the most amazing fossils ever found and who influence scientific thinking around the possiblility that extinction may exist and who also discovered the fossils of previously unknown prehistoric animals. So little is known about these characters becuase of
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Alison
Disappointing. For a book that starts with a lightning strike, Remarkable Creatures has surprisingly little spark.

I could not quite connect with any of the characters. I felt as if I were looking at them through a window, unable to really see them or hear them, instead of being immersed in their story.

Also, Tracy Chevalier, whose previous books I've very much enjoyed, tries to pack so much into this book - religious and philosophical questions at a time when general beliefs were being upheaved
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Carol
Read a review on this one and think I will like it. I love hunting for archeological finds and this one is about two women who hunt them together. Tracy Chevalier was browsing a museum on the south coast of England and saw that specimens of fossils were found by this woman and built a fictional story around what her life might have been like.
I adored Chevalier's Girl With A Pearl Earring so I'm hoping this comes even close.
Fifty pages in and hooked.The feeling I have as I read this book is sim
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Jackleen
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier is a quiet reflective fictionalized story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two very different women of different social backgrounds who shared a passion for fossil hunting at the turn of the century. Chevalier gives a voice to these mostly unknown women whose contributions added greatly to the study of extinct animals, paleontology, in a time when men did not recognize a woman’s skill nor expertise, and had no qualms about stealing both the fossils an ...more
Janice
I enjoyed this historical fiction about Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot in their search for fossils on the shores of England in the early 1800's. The story was alternately told by both women as it revealed the prevailing attitudes of the scientific community against women. We take so much for granted in our day and age. Back in the early 1800's, people were driven by class and convention. It was unheard of a woman to leave the house alone. It was necessary for her to be accompanied by other wo ...more
Chatterjak
Thoroughly enjoyable & very interesting. Great to see over-looked historical figures (in this case a working class woman) having their story told, and so well. Made me want to go find out more about the subject. I thought it conveyed the social mores of the time very effectively too. Fantastic fossil-hunting fiction! It's a difficult balance fictionalising fact, but I thought she accomplished this well, made an entertaining story without taking too many liberties!
Simona
Quando qualcuno che ti conosce bene afferma che molto probabilmente non amerai questo libro, forse dovresti dargli ascolto, ma tu testarda come un mulo preferisci seguire il tuo istinto e trarne le dovute conclusioni. Ebbene, mi denudo dei miei panni per indossare quelli della compianta Sandra Mondaini e dire "Che barba, che noia"!
Come aveva fatto in precedenza con "La ragazza con l'orecchino di perla" (che capolavoro immenso!), anche qui la Chevalier parte dalla storia per farci conoscere il mo
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Julie (73)
Really enjoyed this, not the sort of book I would have picked up normally but am so glad that I did. The book moved along at a good pace and I enjoyed the style in which it was written. Fossils have now become interesting for me......
Leslie
On the one hand, this is a completely unique tale that is fairly accurate to history (as far as I can tell). The plot concerns the life of Mary Anning and her friend Elizabeth Philpot. Mary has long had a talent for finding fossils on the beach of Lyme Regis in England in the 1800s, and Elizabeth, recently moved from London to the small seaside town takes an interest in the hobby as well. The history of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot is interesting not only from a scientific point of view, bu ...more
Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
* I'm reviewing an ARC copy*

My first Chevalier novel and I'm in love. I have Girl with a Pearl Earring & The Lady and the Unicorn sitting on my shelf and I cannot wait to devour those.

I'm not well read in the historical fiction genre but if they read like this, I'm a fan!

The novel is about two "spinsters" who develop an unlikely friendship over their love of combing the beaches and cliffs for fossils. Both of these women, Mary & Elizabeth, are social outcasts in their own respective wa
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Felice
How do you feel about Tracy Chevalier? I well remember the great sales and customer love for Girl With the Pearl Earring. I thought it was terrific too. Between that book and Girl In Hyacinth Blue overnight it seemed there as a new sub-genre in fiction with a clamoring audience: Novels About Artists And/Or Models And/Or Vermeer.

Chevalier's subsequent novels have all been historical fiction and in some way have centered on the arts. Her latest book, Remarkable Creatures bucks that trend a bit. Re
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Annie
I have learned a lesson.....I'm not a fan of based-on-real-characters historical fiction. Nonfiction: love it! Historical fiction: love it! Partial-fiction (or as I now like to call it, use-someone's-real-name-and-make-up-stuff-about-them-when-they-can't-defend-themselves literature): I'll pass.

This was a book club selection, and I was happy to read something I wouldn't have picked for myself. I found the book to be very readable. It flowed well and proved to be more interesting a topic than I
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1973
Born:
19 October 1962 in Washington, DC. Youngest of 3 children. Father was a photographer for The Washington Post.

Childhood:
Nerdy. Spent a lot of time lying on my bed reading. Favorite authors back then: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeleine L’Engle, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander. Book I would have taken to a desert island: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

Educa
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More about Tracy Chevalier...
Girl With a Pearl Earring The Lady and the Unicorn The Virgin Blue The Last Runaway Falling Angels

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“We say very little, for we do not need to. We are silent together, each in her own world, knowing the other is just at her back.” 18 likes
“What do you believe, Aunt Elizabeth?'
'I believe. . . I am comfortable with reading the Bible figuratively rather than literally. For instance, I think the six days in Genesis are not literal days, but different periods of creation, so that it took many thousands --- or hundreds of thousands of years --- to create. It does not demean God; it simply gives Him more time to build this extraordinary world.'
'And the ichthyosaurus and plesiosaurus?'
'They are creatures from long, long ago. They remind us that the world is changing. Of course it is. I can see it change when there are landslips at Lyme that alter the shoreline. It changes when there are earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and floods. And why shouldn't it?”
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