Jeanette's Reviews > Curiosity

Curiosity by Joan Thomas
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May 09, 11

Read in April, 2011

Joan Thomas based "Curiosity" on a journal written by Anna Maria Pinny, a wealthy woman who lived in Lyme Regis, Dorset who wrote that Mary Anning had confessed to Anna Pinney that she had been in love with an upper class gentleman who was involved in studying fossils. Joan Thomas has looked at the various men who were in Lyme Regis studying fossils and decided that Henry Del la Beche is the most likely person Mary was in love with. From this journal and the historical information Thomas has written this story. All of the men involved in the fossil search and attempt to explain the origin of the fossils were actual individuals.

Thomas has written a fascinating story in which she combines a love story and the story of the development of the study and understanding of fossils. Forty years before Darwin published "On the Origin of Species," Mary Anning found and excavated the first intact skeleton of a prehistoric creature. The complete skeleton of the pterodactyl is on exhibit in Natural History Museum in London along with many other of Mary's finds under the name of the person she sold these fossils to.

Mary hunted for "curiosities" on soft cliffs near Lyme Regis and sold them to visitors who arrived by coach. These "curiosities" were fossils, but at that time no one understood what they were or how they came to be in the cliffs. Mary spent her life hunting fossils and learning about them. She worked with many of the prominent upper class gentlemen who were also studying these fossils as paleontology and geology were just becoming into being.

This is not a biography but a novel. Thomas weaves the facts about Mary Anning and her guess at to who Mary was talking about when she told Anna Pinney that she had been in love with an upper class gentleman into a story I had difficulty putting down. It is not a typical love story but the story of how two people both worked at learning about the fossils which fascinated them both and how their lives were separated by class.
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message 1: by Aban (Aby) (new)

Aban (Aby) I'm just reading another book by Joan Thomas . . . "Reading By Lightening". In this book too, one of the characters is fascinated by fossils. They're obviously of interest to the author. The book also takes place in England. I understand that the author lives in Winnipeg, but she obviously has a strong connection to, and knowledge of, England.


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