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In , A Sister And Brother Uncover The Fossilized Skull Of An Unknown Animal In The Cliffs On The South Coast Of England With Its Long Snout And Prominent Teeth, It Might Be A Crocodile Except That It Has A Huge, Bulbous Eye Remarkable Creatures Is The Story Of Mary Anning, Who Has A Talent For Finding Fossils, And Whose Discovery Of Ancient Marine Reptiles Such As That Ichthyosaur Shakes The Scientific Community And Leads To New Ways Of Thinking About The Creation Of The WorldWorking In An Arena Dominated By Middle Class Men, However, Mary Finds Herself Out Of Step With Her Working Class Background In Danger Of Being An Outcast In Her Community, She Takes Solace In An Unlikely Friendship With Elizabeth Philpot, A Prickly London Spinster With Her Own Passion For FossilsThe Strong Bond Between Mary And Elizabeth Sees Them Through Struggles With Poverty, Rivalry And Ostracism, As Well As The Physical Dangers Of Their Chosen Obsession It Reminds Us That Friendship Can Outlast Storms And Landslides, Anger And Jealousy


10 thoughts on “Remarkable Creatures

  1. says:

    Some of my favorite things about Remarkable Creatures 1 Bathing machines 2 Fossils, of course.3 A regency era book about friendship between two women, rather than the marriage of some rehabilitated rake and some nubile.4 Elizabeth s characterization of people based upon what feature they lead with eyes, hair, hands 5 Fossils I enjoyed this book a lot after I came across some information about who Mary Anning really was At first, I did not realize this was based on the stories of real people and the amazing discoveries of two women inlcuding the first ichthyosaur skeleton correctly identified.Very enjoyable and now I want to go to Lyme Regis with a little hammer and hunt for fossils.


  2. says:

    I now know than I ever expected to about fossil collecting by English women during the Regency period.This historical novel is somewhat loosely based on several people who actually lived, and either hunted or collected fossils, in England in the early 1800s It alternates between the viewpoints of Elizabeth Philpot, a genteel spinster in reduced circumstances who moves to Lyme Regis by the sea a hotbed for fossil hunters and discovers a passion for fossils, and Mary Anning, the daughter of a destitute cabinetmaker s widow, who supplements the family income by finding and selling fossils Despite their differences in age and social status, the two form a friendship based on their mutual fascination with fossils that lasts for many years and survives some ups and downs.I knew that Regency era society had its fads and fascinations with ancient history, but fossils and the attendant religious controversy were new for me How can we believe in animals that are extinct if God never makes mistakes How can we rationalize dinosaur fossils with the belief that the earth was created only a few thousand years ago Tracy Chevalier manages to address these questions without sounding too disrespectful of religious beliefs, other than those that advocate a very literal reading of the Bible s 6 day creation period story, allowing no room for debate.The other major theme running through the pages of the book is the role of women It was extremely difficult for Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot to get any respect or recognition for their accomplishments And with all the Regency romances that are so popular, it s good to see a realistic take on what women at that time could expect for love and marriage She sank into spinsterhood beside Louise and me.There are worse fates.I was mildly irked by one plotline that seemed like a modern imposition on Regency society and there s nothing in actual history to support this part of the story view spoiler Mary and Elizabeth both fall for the same older guy Mary hopes that he ll ask her to marry him, but eventually realizes that s simply not going to happen After she figures that out, she decides to sleep with him just one time, just for the experience of having sex, because she s realized she s not likely to ever marry him or anyone else It just seemed like late 20th century kind of thinking to me If she d slept with the guy hoping to get him to marry her, that would have made sense for those times Plus the guy is kind of a cad, but that s a whole nother story hide spoiler


  3. says:

    Rating 3 of five The Publisher Says A voyage of discoveries, a meeting of two remarkable women, and extraordinary time and place enrich bestselling author Tracy Chevalier s enthralling new novelFrom the moment she s struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear that Mary Anning is marked for greatness On the windswept, fossil strewn beaches of the English coast, she learns that she has the eye and finds what no one else can see When Mary uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious fathers on edge, the townspeople to vicious gossip, and the scientific world alight In an arena dominated by men, however, Mary is barred from the academic community as a young woman with unusual interests she is suspected of sinful behavior Nature is a threat, throwing bitter, cold storms and landslips at her And when she falls in love, it is with an impossible man.Luckily, Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a recent exile from London, who also loves scouring the beaches Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy Ultimately, in the struggle to be recognized in the wider world, Mary and Elizabeth discover that friendship is their greatest ally Remarkable Creatures is a stunning novel of how one woman s gift transcends class and social prejudice to lead to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century Above all, is it a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship My Review A middling book about interesting times and people Not extraordinarily well, or poorly, written Not unusual or original in plotting or in, frankly, any way I can think of Like all of Chevalier s work, a solid, well made entertainment, about a subject most of us have never given one instant s thought to.Therein its charm Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot weren t the women of Jane Austen s novels, and they weren t subjected to the same constraints as those women were They lived in poverty whether genteel or grinding, and they followed their own interests instead of doing what was thought to be necessary to get a husband Chevalier points up the ways in which this freedom made the women best able to pursue the passions each might never have known had she been a mother and a wife.We owe our knowledge of plesiosaurs and other aquatic beasts of the era to these remarkable women, who hunted for and preserved fossils along England s Dorset coast That Mary Anning was the productive of the two and that it was she who found the major finds does not minimize the better off Miss Philpot s many contributions, both emotional and financial, to the process.In the end, it is the usual suspect, jealousy, that ends the friendship across a generation and a class divide Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot fall in love with the same man It leads to the eruption of their other jealousies, of course, and the many things we think but never say come out of each woman s mouth.Years pass, and many events occur, but unlike theirs, endings are only rarely as good as beginnings Anning and Philpot lived in a time when the role of a woman was to be of service Neither had a man to serve, so they served Mankind with their old rock boned beasts Much of what we think today would have been harder and later in coming without them, their small but vital role in making modern science what it is.Remarkable creatures indeed This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


  4. says:

    A gorgeously written story about fossils and friendship Its rare gentleness makes it truly beautiful The two audiobook narrators do an incredible job as well.


  5. says:

    Another winner by ChevalierI had never heard of Mary Anning and as I read this, it again dawned on me how many women have been erased and disappeared from history because of sexism and male prejudice during the times they lived inAnning was a major paleontologist who was completely self taught, living in poverty, and discovered several important prehistoric fossils from the Jurassic period that challenged the conventional thinking of the time about creation, the age of the earth, and survival of the fittest 50 years before Darwin wrote the Origin of the Species..It is even amazing when one discovers she found some of her most famous fossils when still a child..Her recognition for these achievements is taken from her by the wealthy male landowners and scientists who try to claim her discoveries for themselves.Bravo to Chevalier for making the unknown known about this remarkable intelligent women and the ongoing strength of her supportive friendship with another fossil hunter, Elizabeth Philpot.


  6. says:

    Remarkable Creatures is a beautifully written book about two remarkable women, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot A fictional account based on real life characters and events, Remarkable Creatures is set in the early 1800 s in the coastal town of Lyme Regis, England Poor, uneducated Mary Anning and middle class, London bred Elizabeth Philpot form what is considered an unconventional friendship, due to their differing social classes, based on their love of fossils and fossil hunting Despite my extremely limited knowledge in the fields of geology and paleontology, I found this book fascinating The novel alternates back and forth between the points of view of both Mary and Elizabeth I found this to be a very effective means for the reader to gain insight into the innermost thoughts of both of these women Always lurking in the background is of course the restraints placed on both women due to their gender and their social class Mary Anning was truly a gifted fossil hunter and yet she struggled to become recognized for her work due to being a female during these times She was most definitely looked down upon as a result of her working class status Elizabeth Philpot, due to her middle class standing, was able to champion Mary in certain social and scientific circles However, Elizabeth was also limited in these circles due to her gender Having gone to London to defend Mary at one point in the novel, Elizabeth, like all women at the time, was not allowed past the threshold of the Geological Society Mary, perhaps due to her lower class standing, found it easier to take risks and express her true feelings without caring what others would think Elizabeth, however, was possibly inhibited due to her elevated position as a lady in society than was Mary Elizabeth felt the need to show decorum as was expected by society The differences in the women s own expectations and expressions of their needs and desires is perhaps what placed of an eventual strain on their relationship than did the social conventions themselves What appealed to me personally was their ability to grow as individuals, learn from one another, and find the true gift and meaning of forgiveness In addition to the scientific and social narratives in Remarkable Creatures, Tracy Chevalier also examines the religious significance of the findings of these fossils The setting of this book occurs before Darwin s The Origin of Species, at a time when scientific and religious thinking substantially clashed with one another Uncovering the bones of animals that no longer existed on earth confused many people and raised complicated questions regarding God s hand in the creation of the earth and its creatures Would God create creatures to later bring about or allow their eventual demise And what ramifications would this have on humanity itself The scientific community as well as laymen and the clergy struggled with these questions When Elizabeth Philpot challenges Reverend Jones with the theory that a certain fossil specimen is an animal that God rejected in favor of a better design the Reverend contends All that you see about you is as God set it out in the beginning He did not create beasts and then get rid of them That would suggest He had made a mistake, and of course God is all knowing and incapable of error, is He not and then later God placed fossils there when He created the rocks, to test our faith Even the learned men in this novel struggle with these mysteries Geologist and Oxford professor William Buckland says I cannot see why God would want to kill off what He has created Geology is always to be used in the service of religion, to study the wonders of God s creation and marvel at His genius Despite his own fossil research and teaching position at Oxford, William Buckland remained uncertain and unable to reconcile his scientific and religious views Additional debates ensued regarding whether the Bible should be interpreted literally or figuratively I found these reflections to be quite thought provoking in many ways.I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about fossils and fossil hunting regardless of current knowledge of the subject Tracy Chevalier has inspired me to look further into the topic with some suggested further reading listed at the end of this novel Even if fossils themselves do not arouse your curiosity, this is still a wonderful composition of a remarkable friendship that overcomes class struggles and personal conflicts, and a compelling glimpse at the impact of science on religion.


  7. says:

    Cuando el otro d a vi este libro en la librer a, no dud ni un segundo en decidir que quer a leerlo Tanto la portada como la sinopsis me llamaron mucho la atenci n Y, desde ya, felicito a la autora por la ardua tarea de documentaci n que se necesita para escribirlo El por qu , entonces, le pongo 3 estrellas es muy simple porque soy lectora de rom ntica y me ha faltado romance As de sencillo Ahora, en cuando a puntos fuertes, debo decir que me ha gustado mucho leer sobre esas mujeres que por X motivo no se casaban qu pasaba con ellas, tanto emocional como socialmente.


  8. says:

    This is the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, fossil collectors in England in the first half of the 19th century Their gender and social class kept them from receiving the credit and recognition they deserved for their discoveries Historical fiction with great characters and a very interesting subject Tracy Chevalier is one of the best writers today in this genre.


  9. says:

    I know, this book is not great literature but for some reasons I really enjoyed it and will count it to my favourite bokks The story is about Mary Anning, who lived in Lyme Regis and since she was a girl uncovered fossils of at the time unknown creatures Elisabeth Philpot, an educated woman from London,was forced to move to Lyme Regis with her sisters, because in the family was not enough money for all the sisters to marry She started to hunt for fossils as well and despite their diffrent age, Elisabeth was about 20 years older then Mary, and their diffrent background, Mary came from a workers family, they became companions and friends.The book is not just an intresting feature about the ideas about the world s creation and our origins in that time, but it is about friendship between two very diffrent women and how they fight for recognition in a scientific world, dominated by men Apart from that, if anybody is intrested in fossils and geology, this is a nice way to start.For me, it was specially intresting, because I live in the areaand will be able to go to Lyme Regis to follow Marys and Elisabeths traces.


  10. says:

    We had heard about the girl struck by lightning, for people still talked of it years later It was one of those miracles small towns thrive on children seeming drowned then spurting out water like a whale and reviving men falling from cliffs and reappearing unscathed boys run down by coaches and standing up with only a scratched cheek Such everyday miracles knit communities together, giving them their legends to marvel at It had never occurred to me when I first met her that Mary might be the lightning girl Do you remember being struck Margaret asked Mary shrugged , clearly uncomfortable with our sudden interest Many thanks to Autumn for introducing me to this alternative version of Harry Potter.I am kidding, of course, but the thought of Mary Anning as a real life HP using fossils as portkeys to be transported into a time so different that it might as well just be another world did appeal to me for quite some time Tracy Chevalier author of Girl with a Pearl Earring created a fictional account of the friendship of two women who not only existed in real life but who also changed natural history as we know it And all this decades before Charles Darwin would publish that little known tome about the the origin of species.So, who, I hear you ask, are the two women Well, the first one is Mary Anning, whom the Natural History Museum introduces as follows The greatest fossil hunter ever known was a woman from Lyme Regis Mary Anning s discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time They provided evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth Mary Anning s contribution had a major impact at a time when there was little to challenge the biblical interpretation of the story of creation and of the flood The spectacular marine reptiles that Anning unearthed shook the scientific community into looking at different explanations for changes in the natural world William Buckland, Henry de la Beche and William Conybeare were some of the many scientists who owe their achievements to her By the time of her death, geology was firmly established as its own scientific discipline Not a bad feat for a woman who was a contemporary of Jane Austen s at a time when women were not allowed to contribute to scientific journals or indeed even enter the clubs and societies that were available for the scientifically minded.What is even astonishing is that Mary Anning had little education and spent most of her early years in abject poverty The second woman is Anning s friend, Elizabeth Philpot, an educated woman who, being a spinster, relocated with her sisters to Lyme Regis after the death of their father In fact, reading her story strongly reminded me of the sisters in Sense and Sensibility and yes there even is a military man who plays a crucial role in the lives of both women Anyway, spurned by the move to Lyme Regis, Elizabeth becomes a fossil collector, too, and befriends Mary How can a twenty five year old middle class lady think of friendship with a young working girl Yet even then, there was something about her that drew me in We shared an interest in fossils, of course, but it was than that Even when she was just a girl, Mary led with her eyes, and I wanted to learn how to do so myself The story that Chevalier creates of the friendship of the two women is truly magnificent The difference in age and class causes many obstacles for women to communicate and there are major rifts between them, which left me wondering how they would cope, how they would resolve their differences And in the end, whether they would manage to be able to rely on each other when everything they had worked for was put at risk and depended on their friendship I had discovered from conversations I d had about fossils with the people of Lyme that few wanted to delve into unknown territory, preferring to hold on to their superstitions and leave unanswerable questions to God s will rather than find a reasonable explanation that might challenge previous thinking Hence they would rather call this animal a crocodile than consider the alternative that it was the body of a creature that no longer existed in the world This idea was too radical for most to contemplate Even I, who considered myself open minded, was a little shocked to be thinking it, for it implied that God did not plan out what He would do with all of the animals He created If He was willing to sit back and let creatures die out, what did that mean for us Were we going to die out too Review first posted at