Title: Remarkable Creatures
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Release Date: January 5, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Remarkable Creatures is the story of two women who couldn’t be more different. Elizabeth and her two sisters, gentlewomen who are also spinsters, move to the coastal town of Lyme-Regis after their brother gets married. Elizabeth has always been interested in science and spends her free time going fossil-hunting on the beach, which is how she meets Mary Anning. Mary is a poor girl in her teens who hunts fossils and sells them in order to help her family. She has an incredible eye for picking them out. Though these two women are from different backgrounds and have a twenty year age difference between them, their love of fossils brings them together.
Tracy Chevalier is one of the most famous historical fiction authors, for a very good reason. She writes vivid and compelling novels that bring characters from history to life and immerse the reader in details from that period in time. Remarkable Creatures is no exception to the rule of the quality of Chevalier’s historical fiction novels.
I knew virtually nothing about the history of fossils in Britain before starting this novel. I can’t say I had a lot of interest in the subject when I picked up Remarkable Creatures, but Chevalier makes the history fascinating by putting a human face on it. She includes intricate historical details that create a wonderful atmosphere for the book. The novel is very enjoyable and teaches the reader a lot.
The two main characters, Elizabeth and Mary, are incredibly well-drawn. Though I identified with Elizabeth more, I enjoyed reading both of their voices. Chevalier creates distinct personalities for each of these women – if you pick up the book and open it to a random page, you can tell which character is narrating simply based on the style of the language. It’s a difficult thing to do, and Chevalier accomplishes it masterfully.
Remarkable Creatures is different from most of Chevalier’s previous books, but it has the best elements in common with them – it’s enjoyable and very well-written. The pages fly by as the reader gets more and more involved in Elizabeth’s and Mary’s stories. I definitely recommend this book for any fans of historical fiction.