In this story of female friendship and fortitude, Tracy Chevalier shows her skill for working history’s lost individuals into far-reaching fiction. Set in 19th century Lyme Regis, it centres on the bond between Mary Anning, a penniless girl who hunts fossils to make a living, and spinster Elizabeth Philpot. As Mary’s finds begin to attract the big boys of science – and a dashing chancer – her friendship with Elizabeth is compromised.
In the year of the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species, set in a town where Jane Austen was a frequent visitor, Tracy Chevalier once again shows her uncanny sense for the topical. In the early nineteenth century, a windswept beach along the English coast brims with fossils for those with the eye! From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear Mary Anning is marked for greatness. When she uncovers unknown dinosaur fossils in the cliffs near her home, she sets the scientific world alight, challenging ideas about the world's creation and stimulating debate over our origins.
In an arena dominated by men, however, Mary is soon reduced to a serving role, facing prejudice from the academic community, vicious gossip from neighbours, and the heartbreak of forbidden love. Even nature is a threat, throwing bitter cold, storms, and landslips at her. Luckily Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly, intelligent Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster who is also fossil-obsessed.
Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty and barely suppressed envy. Despite their differences in age and background, Mary and Elizabeth discover that, in struggling for recognition, friendship is their strongest weapon. Remarkable Creatures is Tracy Chevalier's stunning new novel of how one woman's gift transcends class and gender to lead to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century.
Above all, it is a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship.
|Publication date:||1st April 2010|
|Publisher:||Harper an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Primary Genre||Historical fiction|
Closing date: 28/10/2021
Tracy Chevalier is the author of six previous novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn, Burning Bright and Remarkable Creatures. Born in Washington, DC, she moved to London in 1984, where she lives with her husband and son. The film of Girl with a Pearl Earring, starring Colin Firth as Vermeer, was released in the UK in January. It was nominated for 10 BAFTAs and two Academy Awards. Photograph © Eammon McCabeMore About Tracy Chevalier