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Tracy Chevalier - Historical Fiction

Updated on November 24, 2014

Remarkable Creatures is a delightful tale of two women from completely different walks of life and the friendship that develops between the two.

We are first introduced to Mary Anning who lived in the early 1800's along the coast of England. It was said that Mary was struck by lightning as a child and this experience left her with an unusual gift. Although she was poor and uneducated, she had an "eye" for spotting fossils along the beaches and cliffs near her home. Mary's father collected special stones and sold them at a stand in front of his house. He taught Mary what to look for in the stones and she was said to have a real gift in looking along the beach. Her eyes were drawn to the unusual shapes and special features of the fossil rocks. We get a view for life among the poor during that time period as we meet Mary, her parents and her brother.

The second main character is Elizabeth Philpot. She is a woman in her middle years who has never married. She lives with her sisters and they are fairly well off. Elizabeth also loves fossils and spends her time searching the beach for interesting and unusual fossils. Elizabeth, however, is interested in collecting fossils, not selling them. We learn about life for the middle class as we are introduced to Elizabeth and her sisters. We also learn about the challenges of women, without husbands, during that time period.

The book spends time showing the developing friendship of Mary and Elizabeth. These two woman from different walks of life develop a strong loyalty for each other.

Mary Anning discovers an important fossil that challenges the religious beliefs of the time about when the earth was created. This discovery rattles the religious community but is embraced by the scientific community. With Elizabeth's help Mary must overcome her lack of education and status as she presents her findings to the scientific field.

I have really enjoyed reading all of Tracy Chevalier's historical fiction novels. I like a book that really takes me in to the life of the characters and these novels do just that. They are books that you don't want to put down and when you do have to put them down you find your mind wondering back to the characters.

Falling Angels: A Novel
Falling Angels: A Novel

This novel follows two families in the early years of the twentieth century.

Girl with a Pearl Earring: A Novel
Girl with a Pearl Earring: A Novel

This novel is the most popular of Tracy Chevalier's and has been made into a movie.


In this interesting video the author talk about why she decided to write this book. I saw the video before I read the book and it made me really want to read the book. I ordered it immediately and couldn't wait to read it.

Hear the author relate her experience in writing the book.

What is your favorite Tracy Chevalier Book?

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Have you read any Tracy Chevalier books? Your comments will help to make this page more interesting. I'd love to hear from you so stop by and leave a note. If you haven't read any of this authors books perhaps you'd like to tell us about a favorite historical fiction book. I'm always looking for good recommendations.


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      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      sounds like a book I would enjoy - enjoyed your review