Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Posted by Dina N
From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear Mary Anning is different. Though poor and uneducated, she learns on the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast that she has a unique gift: "the eye" to spot fossils no one else can see. When she uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious community on edge, the townspeople to gossip -- and the scientific world alight with both admiration and controversy. Prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster and also a fossil hunter, becomes Mary Anning's unlikely champion and friend, and together they forge a path to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century.
Remarkable Creatures is the fascinating story of two women and the unusual passion that brings them together. Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot could not be more different in personality, and their social standing is miles apart. Yet, their dedication to the search for fossilized creatures and the secrets they bear brings them together and makes them unlikely friends. It also makes them rivals for the attention of several men who are drawn to them because of their talent to collect fossils. Mary and Elizabeth's fossil quest is highly unusual for the times but even more so because, as women, they are not supposed to be concerned with anything other than running a home and finding a husband. Their discoveries, though extraordinary, only take them further away from these social expectations.
Mary and Elizabeth are strong, passionate characters, based on true historical personalities from the early 19th century. Remarkable Creatures is a work of fiction but many of the people in it existed and some of the events did indeed take place. I greatly enjoyed the story and the characters, every bit as remarkable as the creatures they discovered.
Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the publisher or PR firm.