The next book on the list is Remarkable Creatures by one of my favorite female authors, Tracy Chevalier. Her most well-known book, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, was made into a movie starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. That was my favorite and the first book I’ve read of hers.
Remarkable Creatures came out years before in 2009 but I was hesitant to buy it when I read the story was about some female fossilists in the 1800s. I thought I wouldn’t be interested but how wrong I was. I loved the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. I could totally relate to them as I, myself am about society’s next casualty in the search for Mr. Right. How could I ever doubt the wisdom of Tracy Chevalier? I’ve collected her works over the years but The Girl with the Pearl Earring still holds a special place in this bookworm’s heart.
Remarkable Creatures, as you may already deduce from the synopsis at the back of the book, is not full of dark twists and turns, nor does it have scandalous intrigues or any nail-biting trill rides. It’s almost like reading a Jane Austen with a bit more substance. The drama is very subtle which could turn off most people. I appreciated the story and landscape though. From this busy city, I was transported to the misty shores of Lyme Regis, looking at fossils at it’s cliff walls and sandy beaches. I must tell you it’s a welcome escape especially since I read most of it while commuting and stuck in traffic.
I almost forgot that the characters actually existed. I just googled Mary Anning when I was more than halfway through the book. It made the story even more interesting to me. Although it was quite a spoiler when I read William Buckland actually married someone else. It’s an awww moment as I loved his eccentric character. He’s my kind of a goofy nerd.
Just like in every Tracy Chevalier book, she added some intrigues that although might be intriguing, I highly doubt happened. It’s not as though this is an accurate historical text book though. I loved the details she put in. The description of the cottage and of Lyme Regis made me want to experience it for myself. Let me put Lyme Regis in my dream list of places to go in England. (Just after High Gate Cemetery and Baker Street!)
All in all, I highly recommend this to someone who loves Jane Austen (surprise reference included), historical novels and of stories that are nuanced and not overly dramatic.