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Remarkable Creatures Hardcover – Jan 5 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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: 16.1 x 3 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #467,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Praise for Remarkable Creatures 'It is a stunning story, compassionately reimagined' Guardian 'Chevalier recently stated that making fossils sexy was one of her chief aims in writing Remarkable Creatures. With this very entertaining book, she has certainly succeeded' Telegraph 'Very entertaining and informative' The Times 'The backdrop of shifting evolutionary ideas finds a rueful echo in Chevalier's tender portrayal of two extraordinary women who refuse to be constrained by society' Sunday Telegraph 'An enthralling novel of female friendship and fossil hunting.' Woman and Home 'An extraordinary tale about two 19th century women who attempt to alter ideas about creationism with their discoveries of dinosaur fossils' Daily Mirror 'Involving themes of friendship and the hidden world of women as much as the excitement of discovering the fossils' significance, Remarkable Creatures is itself a find' Metro 'Chevalier shows her skill for working history's lost individuals into far-reaching fiction' Good Housekeeping --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Raised in Washington, D.C., Tracy Chevalier moved to England in 1984, and in 1994 graduated from the M.A. course in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Her first novel, The Virgin Blue, was chosen by W. H. Smith for its Fresh Talent promotion in 1997. She lives in London with her husband and son.

Tracy Chevalier
"I was born and grew up in Washington, DC. After getting a BA in English from Oberlin College (Ohio), I moved to London, England in 1984. I intended to stay 6 months; I'm still here.

"As a kid I'd often said I wanted to be a writer because I loved books and wanted to be associated with them. I wrote the odd story in high school, but it was only in my twenties that I started writing 'real' stories, at night and on weekends. Sometimes I wrote a story in a couple evenings; other times it took me a whole year to complete one.

"Once I took a night class in creative writing, and a story I'd written for it was published in a London-based magazine called Fiction. I was thrilled, even though the magazine folded 4 months later.

I worked as a reference book editor for several years until 1993 when I left my job and did a year-long MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich (England). My tutors were the English novelists Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain. For the first time in my life I was expected to write every day, and I found I liked it. I also finally had an idea I considered 'big' enough to fill a novel. I began The Virgin Blue during that year, and continued it once the course was over, juggling writing with freelance editing.

"An agent is essential to getting published. I found my agent Jonny Geller through dumb luck and good timing. A friend from the MA course had just signed on with him and I sent my manuscript of The Virgin Blue mentioning my friend's name. Jonny was just starting as an agent and needed me as much as I needed him. Since then he's become a highly respected agent in the UK and I've gone along for the ride."

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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Based in the early 1800s, this is the story of Mary Anning, who was a real life person who was one of the best fossil hunters ever. She, and her friend, Elizabeth Philpot, another real life character, formed a friendship in a world dominated by men as they discovered fossils and bones of dinosaurs which their society, in that day, struggled to understand. Religious views held that all the animals that God had created must still exist so dinosaur bones were tough to explain. While I enjoyed the historical aspect of this book, I valued even more the story of the friendship of the two women. I learned a great deal from this book about the importance, and limitations, of women living in this period. I never would have survived. Overall, quite a good book that I enjoyed even more knowing the characters were, although novelized, based in fiction
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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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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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