Thursday, September 16, 2010

30 Day Book Meme - Day 02

Day 02 - A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures. It's her latest book and just wonderful, focussing as it does on Mary Anning, the young woman who made major fossil discoveries on the South Coast of England in the early 19th century. It also deals with her friendship with her patron, Elizabeth Philpot, a woman who shared her fascination with fossils but who didn't have the same degree of success in uncovering them. Not only did Ms Anning find the fossils, but she cleaned and reconstructed them. All this in a small house in Lyme Regis.

As with all her books, Ms Chevalier brings historical figures to life, immersing us in their daily routine so that we feel we could turn around and bump into them. So skilled is she at weaving in historical fact that we learn about them and the world around them without being subjected to info dumps, a technique which contributes to the feeling of being transported back in time through her prose. She also examines the difficult nature of female friendship and rivalry, in a time in general when women were excluded from academic life and relegated to the drawing room and nursery.

Until I read this book, I had no idea about the important contributions to science and history made by Ms Anning, an ordinary woman with an extraordinary talent and the drive to persevere. To learn more, you can read about the book and/or visit the online version of the Philpot museum in Lyme Regis.

Currently Reading: Shadow Baby by Margaret Forster

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