Reading guide for Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Remarkable Creatures

By Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jan 2010,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2010,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The first sentence of the novel is, “Lightning has struck me all my life.” What did you expect after reading that? What does Mary mean?

  2. What attracts Mary to fossil hunting? How is it different from Elizabeth’s motivation?

  3. How would you characterize the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth—mother/daughter, sisters, or something else?

  4. On page 39 Elizabeth says, “After little more than a year in Lyme I’d come to appreciate the freedom a spinster with no male relatives about could have there.” Why is that? What did “freedom” mean for a woman of the time? Who had more freedom—Elizabeth or Mary?

  5. What role does religion play in Elizabeth’s life? In Mary’s?

  6. How does the notion of “God’s intention” affect their fossil-hunting?

  7. Why do you think that in the novel, the women are fossil hunters, while the men are fossil collectors? What point is Chevalier trying to make?

  8. At different points in the novel, both Mary and Elizabeth have reason to think that they, themselves, might become fossils. What did each woman mean by that?

  9. How does Colonel Birch come between the two women? What are his motives? In the end, do you consider him a decent man?

  10. After Birch’s auction, on page 203, Elizabeth cries, “Not for Mary, but for myself.” Why?

  11. Which woman needs the other more? Why?

  12. Why does Elizabeth go to London? What does she hope to achieve?

  13. Regarding her time on the Unity, Elizabeth says, “I did not expect it, but I had never been so happy.” (page 250) Why does she feel that way?

  14. After Mary agrees to sell a specimen to Cuvier, Mam accuses her of becoming a collector, no longer a hunter. What does she mean by that? Is she right?

  15. Upon Elizabeth’s return from London, Mary says she “was like a fossil that’s been cleaned and set so everyone can see what it is.” (page 298) What happened to change her?

  16. What was your response to the ending?

  17. Have you read any of Tracy Chevalier’s other novels? What similarities and differences do you see?

    Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Plume. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.