Disclaimer: Readers of this review will be subjected to a lot of rambling and random thoughts because I have no clear idea of what I want to say aboutDisclaimer: Readers of this review will be subjected to a lot of rambling and random thoughts because I have no clear idea of what I want to say about this book. Please know this about the book though: I liked it a lot. :)
Someone posted a picture of items that aren't around anymore, mixed tapes, rainbow colored window blinds, Shrinky Dinks, nature being made into make believe. I felt kind of a stab in the chest at the sighting because it made me think about all the things I've left behind over the years.
One of the things I miss the most is an encyclopedia set my parents bought from a door to door salesman. I poured over the dinosaur section of the "D" encyclopedia often, memorizing all of them and their designated time period of existence. I LOVED dinosaurs my entire childhood.
When I went to college, I had a professor that would spend after hours showing me the college's fossil collection. When he quizzed me over the fossils, I'm sure I felt my eyes light up, but for some reason it never dawned on me as a subject to pursue throughout my life.
Then, somewhere along the way I forgot everything mentioned above; that is until I read Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. While reading this novel, I felt a certain kind of homesickness, not a homesickness for a location, but a homesickness for interests that I had put somewhere in the dusty attic of my mind. These feelings ignited a desire to preserve who I am better; not forget myself along the way; mentally survive.
Anyway, Remarkable Creatures is a historical fiction novel about the real life fossil hunter, Mary Anning and her friend and supporter Elizabeth Philbot. They both lived before Darwin's contributions on Evolution Theory so you can imagine the turbulent seas these women faced. Both were women that followed their passions with an intensity and focus that I deeply admire. They were outside-the-box thinkers, way before their time, uncovering their own answers to their fossil finds. When most people were satisfied that Mary had found a deceased crocodile on the beaches of Lyme Regis, Mary and Elizabeth set out to prove that the bones were of something else entirely.
The main characters are survivalists that did not adhere themselves to societal expectations so if you are looking for a Jane Austen-like novel...this is it. Maybe my favorite element of the book were the characters. I especially liked the witty comments made to the town gossipers by Miss Elizabeth. I've always been drawn to honest, no fuss types as my friends and she felt like a friend. Mary, a true survivalist ( struck by lightening as an infant and survived!) was warm and bright. I wanted to sit down to tea with them and plan a beach combing event or just sit there with them without even talking....excavate them out of the story and make them alive once more.
A picture of a Giant Tortoise mashing strawberries with his gums and large tongue, yet seemingly smiling for the camera got me hooked on reading aboutA picture of a Giant Tortoise mashing strawberries with his gums and large tongue, yet seemingly smiling for the camera got me hooked on reading about this gentle giant, so I was ecstatic to see a whole book dedicated to this very animal. This non-fiction work gives the unique history of any connection throughout the years with Giant Tortoises. One realizes that though this slow lumbering species may seem plain, they are anything but, and each individual can live up to 200 years (maybe even more) making them historically wise and timeless (they are old but somehow have a captured a bit of the fountain of youth. Take me to their watering hole.). You can't imagine the places and people one Giant Tortoise can know.
There are interesting facts about Charles Darwin that gave me faith that with passion for one's work, new ideas are born and can succeed. Just a young lad upon the Ship The Beagle Charles Darwin had little experience. However, what he lacked in organization and experience he made up by using his given brains. He also noticed how spectacular Giant Tortoises are (which identifies his pure genius if you ask me).
Many people and events have crossed this species path. Some intentions were good and others were mean and ignorant, but the historical lessons in every detail is written here. Sometimes, the author repeats some of these details to make a further point, which was really the same point he had discussed earlier, and this played tricks with my mind. Had I read this before? Is this not the place I left off at? I finally figured out it was just the repetitious nature of a few statements that made some chapters a little dry. Sometimes though it showed the true human nature of the scientists discussed (life gets in the way of one's work sometimes).
Though dry in some areas, this is worth the read for those that love animals. Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin is also mentioned. Apparently his Tortoise Harriet had a mysterious history that left men guessing. She died in 2006.