Sean Wylie's Reviews > Remarkable Creatures

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
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Apr 11, 12

Read in March, 2012

The fictionalize story of Mary Anning, who was immortalized as the woman of the ‘She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore’ tongue twister. This is a fascinating story of an unlikely friendship and an even more unlikely hobby that became a business than became its own field of science.

The story is set in the early 1800s and revolves around the teenage years of a working class girl from Lyme Regis who searches the limestone beaches for ‘Curees’ (fossils). Little would anyone expect her to become the greatest fossil hunter of her generation. Her finds were so extraordinary they laid the foundation for the new science of paleontology, separating the search for fossilized creature from the science of geology. Her creatures also became a direct challenge to the religious establishment of the time, as it seemed to show that some of God’s creatures could no longer be found on earth. It also gave courage to those who believed the Earth was older than the 6000 years that biblical scholars had calculated.

The story is told by two narrators Mary and the well-born middle class spinster, Ms. Elisabeth. Their unlikely passion for fossil hunting leads to a strong friendship tested by the different classes, span in age, and at times jealousy of each other. Weaved throughout the book is the stories of struggles women faced in England at this time. Both through eyes of a working class woman who could barely feed herself yet who enjoyed a certain amount of freedom of movement and speech compared with the struggles of a middle-class unmarried woman with a sharp mind and no way to employ it or be respected for it.

Wonderful read, especially for those interested in natural history and women’s history.
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