Book Review: Remarkable Creatures

Remarkable Creatures
By Tracy Chevalier
Harpers Collins Publishers Ltd, 2009

I sought this book out after reading Stone Girl, Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt to my 4-year-old daughter. I wanted to know more about this Mary Anning person, but as I take my history first in the form of fiction, I started with Tracy Chevalier. If you read this book, keep in mind that it’s a novel, not a true biography. Chevalier compresses the facts of Mary Anning’s life to fit the needs of the story, but it is exceptionally well-written, and will give you a better sense of the cultural forces working against Mary.

I also love the device of having characters described in terms of the features which lead them. For example, from pp 7-8:

I have long noted that people tend to lead with one particular feature, a part of the face or body. My brother, John, for instance leads with his eyebrows. It is not just that they form prominent tufts above his eyes, but they are the part of his face that moves the most, tracing the course of his thoughts as his brow furrows and clears. … My youngest sister, Margaret, leads with her hands. … She is given to waving her hands about as she dances, and when she sleeps she throws her arms above her head, even when the room is cold. Frances has been the only Philpot sister to marry, and leads with her bosom–which I suppose explains that.

And now it’s your turn. What are you reading this week?

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