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Curiosity Paperback – Feb 1 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Emblem Editions; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771084188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771084188
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 20 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By D. M. Millin on April 4 2010
Format: Hardcover
In addition to being the apt title of this fictional biography of Mary Anning, the finder of fossil curosities, "curiosity" is the driving force behind the prize-winning Manitoba writer, Joan Thomas in her excavation of this self-taught and unsung 19th century British paleontologist. A compelling subject, Anning was marked by a lightning bolt as a baby and, according to local lore, as a consequence was fey, fearless and spoke her mind ever after. With her "anthracite" eyes, she was her father's favoured helper in combing the Dorset seaside for "curies" and the additional income they afforded the poverty-pared family. Presaging Darwin's theory that species evolve, at the age of twelve she unearthed the scientific proof with her first fossil find. With patient dusting, washing and chiselling, it took her months to release the 6,000 year old dolphin-like creature from the limestone and shale cliffs surrounding her home.
Although the setting of the seaside resort of Lyme Regis has had previous literary exposure in "Persuasion" by Jane Austen and in "The French Lieutenant's Woman," Thomas snares and inhabits it as her own. "Piles of bracken lay washed up at the foot of the cliff: frilled sashes the rosy mauve of elderberry, and flags of glistening black, and brilliant, torn sea lettuce, all tangled like an extravagant bed of ribbons." Her fine eye, descriptive ability, meticulous research and use of evocative language from the period create a naturalist realism which grounds Anning in place and time. Like her fossils, she too was compacted in place: by relentless poverty, family responsiblities, by her local clergy who viewed her obsession with dead fossils as Satan's work, by male academics and collectors who claimed her finds as their own and by class-driven societal barriers.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By V. Armanios on April 25 2010
Format: Hardcover
Joan Thomas' new novel "Curiosity" reveals a beautifully crafted evocation of Lyme Regis, Dorset at the moment in the early 1800's when fossils made the leap from curiosity cabinet to scientific laboratory.

At the centre of the novel is Mary Anning who, historically, was famous as the first woman fossilist, pre-dating Darwin by several decades. Thomas describes her as having a gift for seeing in the shale and limestone cliffs what has "never been seen or even imagined."

Through Mary, Joan Thomas develops themes that are a natural part of the times: the heartbreak and injustice of the English class system, the challenge of paleontology to nineteenth century religious faith, the confining restraints of gender and class, and above all, the temptations and longings of the human heart.

This novel will have wide appeal among readers who appreciate not only careful background research and fine writing, but also an engrossing story that involves forbidden love, the excitement of fossils found and lost, and unforgettable characters driven by pride, greed and curiosity. This is a great read. Joan Thomas' novel "Curiosity" would be an outstanding choice for book clubs everywhere.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J on April 7 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just finished "Curiosity" today and it was everything a good book should be. I was sad to put it down, but also felt a deep satisfaction at its close. Mary Anning and Henry De la Beche's characters are rich, complicated, and compelling. The amount and depth of research that obviously went into this book is very impressive. And on top of the beautifully presented characters and a stunning amount of research, the story that "Curiosity" tells is its strength. The story itself is dramatic, captivating and moving. I highly recommend it!
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By AmazonUser82 on July 14 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the kind of story that you feel sad when it ends, and wish there was a sequel. I was fully absorbed, and recommended this book to everyone. It stays with you, and I love stories that are based on real accounts.
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By V on Dec 5 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the story and the way it is written. Easy book than you can pick up anytime in any place.
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