Brief Book Review – Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier


Remarkable CreaturesI have, within a few days, completely read a book which I would never have believed might grip my imagination in the least.  It deals with two spinsters in the early nineteenth century.  Mary Anning is ‘working class’.  Elizabeth Philpot is genteel, but not well-to-do.  They come to a friendship born of a shared fascination with fossils.

The story is based closely on two historical characters of those names.  Mary Anning was to rock (pun intended) the scientific world with her discoveries of fossilized bones of prehistoric creatures in Lyme Regis.  Elizabeth does not have quite the same ‘eye’, but gives valuable support and companionship.

She and Elizabeth had to contend with all the strait-laced* conventions of the era, the class distinctions, the belief that women should not meddle in matters of the mind, and the religious convictions, such as one held even today by many of the particularly thick-headed that the world is no more than six thousand years old.

There is a delightful exchange between the local rector and Elizabeth where in order to put her in her place he has the ‘Creation’ part of Genesis read to her.  So, she reasons, it says that the rocks came first, and then the creatures?  He agrees.  Then, she asks, how did some creatures come to be embedded in rock?  In some fury, his only reply is that it is to ‘test our faith’.

The alternating first-person narration is convincing, and I do not share the view of some reviewers that the slight glossing over of the romances of the two main characters detracts.

In summary, I consider it to be a highly entertaining and informative read.

*As a matter of interest, although used less often than ‘straight-laced’ this is the correct form according to lexicographers.

© Colonialist January 2014 (WordPress)


About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
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25 Responses to Brief Book Review – Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier

  1. bluebee says:

    So what brought you to read this, Col?


  2. adeeyoyo says:

    Lovely review, Col. Makes me want to read the book. I am catching up on all the reading I should have done years ago. Just finished Heart of Darkness – beautifully written, but very long-winded. I came across a wonderful author whose books I have really enjoyed, Tamara Rose Blodgett, The Death Series, SciFi (which I didn’t think I’d like, but found I loved!). Series 1-3 is free at the moment on Amazon.


  3. Grannymar says:

    Sounds like this strait-laced ould biddy would enjoy that buke! I hope you are on commission! 😉


  4. Desire says:

    Colonialist, just your review of the book is already gripping! What a perfectly written review!


  5. calmgrove says:

    I started a book about Mary Anning a while ago (something like The Dinosaur Hunters but got distracted. Must get back to it sometime, so thanks for the reminder!


  6. optie says:

    Thanks for the recommendation Col, will look out for it.


  7. I really liked the pun-intended part of your review, which, by the way, is so pleasant that makes you want to read the book. Great post!!


  8. Looks like my kind of book.


  9. disperser says:

    I’ll take note of it, but I need to clear my reading stack before I tackle anything new.


  10. Arkenaten says:

    Now this sounds right up my Muhammid Alley. Good review I must look for it at Exclusive.


  11. nrhatch says:

    Sounds fabulous, Col. Love the exchange between her and the bible-touting rector.


  12. susielindau says:

    Sounds like a good one!


  13. Pussycat44 says:

    Interesting, Col. I’m busy reading Kathy Reichs books. She is a forensic anthropologist and writes books about how murders, which happened a long time ago, are solved. The stories are fictitious, but not the manner in which the cases are solved.


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