Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Remarkable Creatures

by Tracy Chevalier

I've been on a stretch of reading historical fiction and really enjoying it. Here is the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two fossil hunters in early 1800's England. When Mary was just 12 years old she unearthed the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified. Mary's findings also included plesiosaur and the first pterosaur located outside of Germany. Because Mary was a woman she received little recognition during her lifetime, however her discoveries reshaped the way scientists thought about the earth's age and the concept of extinction. Elizabeth spent her time unearthing fish fossils. The finds of both women can still be found in the Natural History Museums in London, Oxford and Paris.

Remarkable Creatures is not only a book of fossil hunting, it is a book of the friendships, heartaches and frustrations remarkable women faced during an era when they were disrespected and disregarded.

I have read other works by Chevalier and can attest to her ability to bring to life the period, place and characters she presents. Despite that, this was not my favorite book of hers, I think because even though it is relatively short, it seems rather long. The story does not contain much action and lacks a plot to carry it forward. It was almost like reading journal narratives of daily fossil hunts on the beaches of Lyme Regis in great detail. If you have a great interest in fossils then Remarkable Creatures is for you. It gives great descriptions of many skeletal findings as well as how they are excavated, cleaned and preserved.

1 comment:

  1. I only skimmed your review because this is my choice for "creepy crawlies."