By Tracy Chevalier
I first stumbled onto Tracy Chevalier when I read The Girl with the Pearl Earring.
I loved the way Chevalier created an entire story around a Vermeer painting of a young girl with a pearl earring. I quickly fell in love with several of Chevalier’s other books
. She became one of my favorite authors and landed a spot on my 30 Things Before 30
Remarkable Creatures is
her latest work, published in 2009. Like her other books, this one is well researched and well written. Her characters’ dialects and actions feel authentic.Remarkable Creatures
gently drops its readers into
the early 1800s, when women’s rights were severely limited and having a mind of one’s own was a cause for intense disapproval. As usual, her characters are strong women who challenge authority and buck convention. They work to make a name for themselves in a time and an industry in which women were persona non grata.
The remarkable creatures are more than just the two female narrators who chose to live life on their own terms. The early 1800s brought about many discoveries of the natural world. Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, introducing the concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest, would be published in 1859. While passing time, waiting to die, and reading about the natural world would have been more fitting for an upper class spinster and a poor girl should have been a dishwasher, the narrators found their passion, their lives’ calling in fossil hunting on the beaches of England.The tales of fossil hunting and the challenges of a friendship that challenges class and age fill the pages of this book and really flesh out the story.
This book is a must read for historical fiction lovers. Tracy Chevalier may be one of my favorite authors, but I would recommend this book regardless.