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 by Tracy Chevalier X
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2010, 320 pages

    Genres

  • 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 will 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Becoming
    Becoming
    by Michelle Obama
    Voted 2019 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    BookBrowse hosted a Book Club ...
  • Book Jacket: Butterfly Yellow
    Butterfly Yellow
    by Thanhha Lai, Daniel Suarez
    Voted 2019 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    As readers, many of us hope ...
  • Book Jacket: Olive, Again
    Olive, Again
    by Elizabeth Strout
    Voted 2019 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    It's been a big year for literary ...
  • Book Jacket: Solitary
    Solitary
    by Albert Woodfox
    Voted 2019 Best Debut Author Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    According to statistics from ...

Book Club
Book Jacket
Evening in Paradise
by Lucia Berlin

"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives on the fringes."—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe

    An inspiring life story that speaks urgently to our troubled times.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Butterfly Yellow

BUTTERFLY YELLOW

Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and the overall highest rated book of the year!

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.