Sunday, 4 September 2011

Remarkable Creatures - Book Review

Remarkable Creatures
by Tracey Chavalier

This was a book review suggestion from Belle's book club, but I didn't hold that against it.

Given my interest in geology this book held an immediate fascination. Its a book about the life of Mary Anning and her fossil hunting in Lyme Regis in the mid 1800's.

Unusually, it's a book written with two voices, Mary Anning a young uneducated local girl blessed with an eye for spotting "curies" (fossils) and Elizabeth Philpott, one of three sisters where were exiled from London.

From a social perspective the main characters couldn't be more different but both were fascinated by the strange animals they found within the layer of Blue Lias, and both were reluctant spinsters never able to find love. As in any relationship, their friendship had its ups and downs evolving into a strong bond, broken for a while before being restored.

For me the book reveals a dawning awareness of the world and that it has played host to a strange and mysterious array of inhabitants, now long extinct. This understanding played against the theology of the time which dictated a 6000 year age for our planet. Their explanation for dinosaur bones in rocks was that God was testing our faith. The amazing thing is that the same fundamentalist arguments were being promoted as recently as the 1970's when I studied Geography and made me view the Bible in a more figurative way.

This is a novel brings the events of the time to life whilst remaining true to the recorded facts. An easy read but absorbing too - particularly if you have an interest in fossils and geology.

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