Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

ISBN #: 978-0-452-29672-5 (se)
Page Count: 312
Copyright: 2009

About the Author:
(Taken from author's website)

"I was born in 1962 and grew up in Washington, DC. I have a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio, and an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. I have lived in London for over 20 years, and am married, with one son. I was a reference book editor for several years before turning to writing full-time. My second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award. It has sold almost 4 million copies worldwide and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson."
To view more about the author and Remarkable Creatures, you can visit the author's site here.

(Taken from back cover)

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.

My Review:

I received this book from FSB Media in exchange for an honest review.

The book is told in first-person, but by two different people which I found unique and enjoyable.  The two people, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, take turns telling the story one chapter after another.  I liked this because you don't get tired of only seeing one person's view of what's happening ... which can sometimes be narrow, depending on the character.

Despite their differences in age and status, they shared a unique common bond which forged them into friends.  I applauded Elizabeth for being Mary's champion and for becoming a confident independent woman, which wasn't easy in the 1800s.  I found myself cheering for Mary when she finally spoke her mind and stopped letting people take advantage of her.  I would have enjoyed befriending both Mary and Elizabeth had I been there.

The book itself was an intermediate read.  When I say that, I mean that, although there are only ten chapters and the font is easily readable, the chapters themselves can be a little lengthy for easy reading.  However, there are breaks within the chapters that one can pause at if they chose to.

Overall, the book was a definitely interesting and somewhat thought-provoking.  And while it was thought-provoking while reading it, I don't know that I'll think about it after this review.  I don't want to discourage others from reading this novel, because I think it would be worth their time.  It's just not something that I will read again anytime soon as once was sufficient for now.

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