Remarkable Creatures portrays an important period in both scientific and social history. Mary’s treatment personally and professionally reflect the denial by the educated upper class to believe anyone from the lower classes and any woman at all as capable of contributing to the intellectual canon. It is easy to feel Mary’s frustration, anger, and betrayal as her finds and scientific conclusions are attributed to others. This is not, however, simply a story of rage and lack of fairness, it encompasses her life in all its complexity. She finds herself in love with a totally unavailable man, learns to eventually trust and find friendship with fellow fossil hunter, Elizabeth Philpot, and to carve out a life not perfect, but livable.
Chevalier has again brought to life a time and a place in history, in this case 19thcentury Dorset, England. The real-life character of Mary Anning is portrayed with sensitivity and honesty and is easy to imagine. Mary was born to working class parents and received a limited education. Struck by lightning as a baby, she is viewed by many as slightly suspect. As her remarkable ability to spot dinosaur fossils in the cliffs near her home leads her into conflict with the scientific community as well as the church fathers, she struggles to make a living and receive the recognition she deserves.
Try some of Chevalier’s other titles.
Readalike: Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland