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Remarkable Creatures Hardcover – Jan 5 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton (Jan. 5 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525951452
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.3 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #358,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe TOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 22 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "Remarkable Creatures" Tracy Chevalier re-imagines the lives of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two truly significant women in the world of science in the first half of the nineteenth century. Both were fascinated by fossils of sea-land creatures that they collected up and down the cliffs and beaches around Lyme Regis, a small town on England's southern shore and a centre for amateurs to find and for scientists to buy fossils from the locals. In easy-going fluid language, Chevalier created two believable voices as they describe their lives, their friendship and the struggle to be recognized for their knowledge.

Mary, by twenty years the younger and historically the better known, had "the eye" for discovering fossils, often hidden in nodules, under rocks or emerging from landslips common in the region. Born into a very poor family, selling fossils as "curies" (curiosities) was a financial necessity for survival; her amateur fossil-hunting father taught his young daughter the skill of finding, identifying, cleaning the "curies" and presenting them for sale. At the age of eleven or twelve, Mary came to the attention of the "gentlemen scientists" when (probably with her brother Joe) she literally "unearthed" an almost complete dinosaur skeletons: an "ichthyosaurus". It was the first of an impressive number of such extraordinary discoveries that Mary made over the years, leading, eventually, to her becoming somewhat famous in her own right, and with more and more scientists seeking her out for assistance. Nonetheless, poverty remained a constant threat for most of her life.

Interleafed with Mary's first person account of her younger life, are chapters that give Elizabeth Philpot a direct voice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Olshaski on Nov. 21 2010
Format: Hardcover
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (Rated: C)
ISBN: 978-0-452-29672-5
Penguin Group
Published November 6, 2010
Trade Paperback, 299 pages
Reviewed by Sandra
Tracy Chevalier has done it yet again! She has managed, by her delicious choice of words, to authentically evoke a by-gone era, England in the early 1800's. Jane Austen would have recognized the small English town by the sea, Lyme Regis, where people went to recover their health or because they were forced to live in "reduced" circumstances, as was the case with Elizabeth Philpot, one of the two fascinating and strong women portrayed in the novel.
This is a story of two unlikely friends. Mary Anning is a young girl from a poor family who hunts for fossils that she sells to contribute to the family income. She has an "eye" for fossils. Elizabeth Philpot is a middle-class spinster about 20 years older than Mary who is also a fossil hunter. In fact, every day they go "upon beach" as Mary expressed it, to hunt for them. Their lives are worlds apart socially but they become fast friends because of their shared passion for fossil-hunting.
One day Mary and her brother make a spectacular find embedded in a cliff - a remarkable creature - a fossil - an 18-foot stone "monster" - a dinosaur! This complete skeleton finds its way eventually to the British Museum. Sometime later, when Mary Anning's reputation as a reliable fossil hunter is maligned, Elizabeth Philpot wants to defend her friend. Elizabeth is very much a woman of her time who has a mind of her own (Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice would have admired her) but is hampered by prevailing attitudes about women. She tells her brother that she wants to address the Geological Society (all men) on Mary's behalf.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and have also read "Burning Bright" so I decided to try this novel based on facts.
I found it a very interesting book indeed. It was easily read but also very informative. I have visited Lyme Regis, walked along sections of the crumbling cliff path and picked up a few fossils from the beaches there but I had not realised that it was a site of such scientific and historical importance. Tracy Chevalier's book opened my eyes to these scientific wonders and also gave a perceptive picture of Mary Anning's background, her life and times, as well as that of the more well-to-do Elizabeth Philpot and some of the famous geologists of the day.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Saro on Dec 22 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tracy Chevalier's sixth novel, Remarkable Creatures, traces the dramatized life of pioneer fossil collector Mary Anning of Lyme Regis in seaside 19th century England. Anning was an illiterate, working-class young girl whose claim to fame was being struck by lightning as a baby and having survived.

In her upcoming novel, Chevalier spreads her signature touches throughout the book. Indeed, this absorbing narrative of resilient friendship and adventures of a thirst for knowledge trails the intrepid scientific discoveries of young and rash Mary Anning and older, genteel London spinster Elizabeth Philpot, two women from diverse backgrounds and social sensibilities despite the testy current of conservative conventions and mores, and discover each other.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pauline on Jan. 24 2011
Format: Paperback
I remember reading to my daughter when she was small a children's book about Mary Anning and how she inspired my daughter to study dinosaurs. We would go the Royal Tyrell Museum every year to see the fossils. So, to say the least, I was excited to read this book "Remarkable Creatures" by Tracy Chevalier and I was rewarded, it is a delightful book.

Mary Anning was a working girl who had an eye for hunting out fossils and she discovered many fossils that had not been seen before, she was a pioneer and many men came to her to have her enrich their collections which they often took credit for finding. Being a female and living in the time that she did, Mary Anning's work went unrecognized as to receiving credit for the finds...the credit usually went to the males who purchased the fossils from her.

Being of a lower class, Mary was never accepted into the upper society she sold her fossils within, they did respect her, but they used her to no end to expand their own collections. This book is a wonderful book that opens your eye to a world before women were given the respect and acknowledgement they deserved especially in the field of science.

It was a treat to learn about Mary Anning's life in a fictional setting and to see her love for fossils intermixed with her need to survive by selling the fossils she devoted her life to. She is definitely a woman one can revere.
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