Remarkable Creatures Hardcover – Jan 5 2010
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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.
"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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A book of fiction based on people who existed. The author deftly brought her characters to light in a way that made fossil hunting fascinating. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Samantha
I read this book, almost in one sitting. I could not put it down. It was suggested by our local library book club. So i downloaded and enjoyed it very much. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Darcy6
Tracy Chevalier is a brilliant writer of historical fiction. This is one novel I will not forget.Published 11 months ago by Visnja Murgic
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. Read more
I felt perfectly satisfied after reading this delightful book. It was a good story, well told. Lovely writing style. I loved that it was based on real-life persons and events. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2011 by mary l bancroft
Remarkable Creatures is one part history, one part novel. It follows the known events in the life of Mary Anning, filling in the unknowns with fiction. Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2011 by Vanessa M. Dow
"The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2010 by Donald Mitchell
This is truly a "remarkable" work of fiction. As always I am captivated by Tracy Chevalier's writing. It is beautiful, lyrical, and breathtaking. Read morePublished on March 3 2010 by Andrea Taylor