Tracy Chevalier, of Girl with a Pearl Earring
fame, has shown before that she is not afraid to tackle popular material. Exploiting a beloved historical icon in fiction is risky business, but Chevalier dives in with gusto. Mary Anning, her subject in Remarkable Creatures
, is a rock star to the natural history museum set, a feminist hero dangled before little girls to get them excited about science and to prove that paleontology is not just for boys. Chevalier takes us directly inside Mary Anning's mind, using intimate first-person confessions to construct a vision of how the junior scientist grew up, and to illustrate just how fraught her relationship with nineteenth-century science really was.
The novel unfolds in alternating first-person accounts, Mary Anning's version of events corroborated (or contradicted) by the reflections of her more educated friend, Elizabeth...
Beyond the Book
Mary Anning's Fossils
The cliffs and beaches of Lyme Regis, in Dorset on the south coast of England, are fertile hunting grounds for creatures who lived in what were equatorial seas in the early Jurassic period, around 190 million years ago. Here is a look at some of the fossil types Mary Anning discovers in Remarkable Creatures:
Ammonites are distant relatives of modern-day cephalopods such as octopus, squid, or chambered nautilus, which they most resemble because of their whorled shell. They grew quickly over a life-span of roughly two years. Ammonite fossils from Lyme Regis can range from the...