From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear Mary Anning is different. Though poor and uneducated, she learns on the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast that she has a unique gift: "the eye" to spot fossils no one else can see. When she uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious community on edge, the townspeople to gossip -- and the scientific world alight with both admiration and controversy. Prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster and also a fossil hunter, becomes Mary Anning's unlikely champion and friend, and together they forge a path to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century.
About the Author:
Tracy was born in 1962 and grew up in Washington, DC. She has a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio, and an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. Tracy has lived in London for over 20 years, and is married, with one son. Tracy was a reference book editor for several years before turning to writing full-time. Her second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award. It has sold almost 4 million copies worldwide and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson.
Excerpt for the book:
Different From All The Other Rocks on the Beach
By Tracy Chevalier,
Author of Remarkable Creatures: A Novel
By Tracy Chevalier,
Author of Remarkable Creatures: A Novel
Lightning has struck me all my life. Just once was it real. I shouldn't remember it, for I was little more than a baby. But I do remember. I was in a field, where there were horses and riders performing tricks. Then a storm blew in, and a woman-not Mam-picked me up and brought me under a tree. As she held me tight I looked up and saw the pattern of black leaves against a white sky.
Then there was a noise, like all the trees falling down round me, and a bright, bright light, which was like looking at the sun. A buzz run right through me. It was as if I'd touched a hot coal, and I could smell singed flesh and sense there was pain, yet it weren't painful. I felt like a stocking turned inside out.
Others begun pulling at me and calling, but I couldn't make a sound. I was carried somewhere, then there was warmth all round, not a blanket, but wet. I knew where I was because it was water and I knew water -our house was close to the sea, I could see it from our windows. Then I opened my eyes, and it feels like they haven't been shut since.
The lightning killed the woman holding me and two girls standing next to her, but I survived. They say I was a quiet, sickly child before the storm, but after it I grew up lively and alert. I cannot say if they're right, but the memory of that lightning still runs through me like a shiver. It marks powerful moments of my life: seeing the first crocodile skull Joe found, and finding its body myself; discovering other monsters on the beach; meeting Colonel Birch. Other times I'll feel the lightning strike and wonder why it's come. Sometimes I don't understand, but accept what the lightning tells me, for the lightning is me. It entered me when I was a baby and never left.
I feel an echo of the lightning each time I find a fossil, a little jolt that says, "Yes, Mary Anning, you are different from all the rocks on the beach." That is why I am a hunter: to feel that bolt of lightning, and that difference, every day.
The above is an excerpt from the book Remarkable Creatures: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2010 Tracy Chevalier, author of Remarkable Creatures: A Novel
Tracy Chevalier has done it again! I love how Tracy can take some historical events, spin them a bit, and come up with the masterpiece Remarkable Creatures. The history in this book is really unforgettable. It's amazing to read about how people thought about fossils before the dinosaur theory was accepted. I enjoy reading novels that capture women of the 19th century being strong because so much of that period is dominated by males. I was so intrigued with the characters Mary and Elizabeth that I read this in just 1 day! Not only did I enjoy the novel but I also learned some cool facts too. I even went as far as looking Mary Anning up on the Internet! Below is the picture of the Ichthyosaur you read about in the book.
Taken from www.tchevalier.com
I highly recommend Remarkable Creatures along with the rest of Tracy Chevalier's books. She is a great writer and definitely lived up to my expectations with her new novel.
My Rating: A
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