Saturday, November 12, 2011

October Book Report: Remarkable Creatures

I'm turning in my October book report late, can I still get partial credit? On my trip to Montreal, I read Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and I loved it! My friend Kris recommended it as part of her ongoing science book club. When I stumbled across it at my work library while I was waiting for a meeting, I figured it was fate.

I read Tracy Chevalier's earlier novel The Girl with the Pearl Earring in a single night several years ago (although I never saw the movie because Colin Firth's mustache is just too creepy).  I enjoyed this just as much, although I read it at a somewhat more leisurely pace.  The story is inspired by two real women who were fossil hunters along English bluffs in the Victorian era.  You can read a bit about Mary Anning on Wikipedia.  The novel touches on questions of science and religion, the value of hands on experience vs. academic expertise, as well as class and gender in science and society.  All of these are certainly questions that are relevant today as they were in Victorian era, but the novel avoids getting weighed down with these issues.

I'm a big fan of historical fiction with modern implications and this is a great read if you are all interested in historical novels and/or science.  For those familiar with the history of evolutionary theory, it is fun to see names like Cuvier turn up in the plot.  Now I want to go to the British Museum of Natural History and see the ichthyosaur Mary finds in the novel.

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