Friday, July 23, 2010

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

This was a lovely audio book to listen to. It always makes me happy to come across such excellent readers. What made me happier was later learning that the remarkable women in this book were, in fact, real people. This is historical fiction but the people are real and did live back in the early 19th century.

Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot are the 2 main characters, 2 women who are unlikely friends due to class lines back in those days. Elizabeth is a middle class, educated woman; albeit a spinster. She lives in Lyme Regis with her 2 sisters, Louise and Margaret, also spinsters. I do despise that term but that was the terminology of the times. Mary is a working class girl in Lyme who has a knack for finding fossils. Her finds keep the family with some food on the table.

Mary stumbles across the full fossil of what she believes is a croc. As the story moves on, she discovers more and more crocs that she later dubs monsters. These aren't like any crocodile anyone has ever seen and it begins to bother people that there may be an animal that no longer exists. Does that mean that God let them die? A lot of religious questioning happens in the Lyme community.

The croc became known as the first ichthyosaur ever to be discovered (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichthyosaur). Mary later found the first plesiosaur as well (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plesiosaur) and went on to discover a great deal more.

The fiction part of the book revolves around Elizabeth's and Mary's friendship and some jealousy between the 2 when it comes to men. The fictional part was a good story as well.
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