Tracy Chevalier, best known for Girl With a Pearl Earring, recently released her sixth novel titled Remarkable Creatures. Though the true-life story of the 19th century fossil hunter Mary Anning is fascinating, I’m afraid this fictional version falls short.
The life story of Mary Anning is a worthy one, but while Chevalier’s characters stand, they don’t inject quite enough ire and passion needed to fuel the feminine fury of this novel. The metaphors are forced and I found them pulling away from the stronger themes of women’s liberation and its role in academic history.
That said, Remarkable Creatures does provide a quick, easy slice of escapism. Without demanding too much from the reader, Tracy Chevalier’s latest will at the very least walk you through the early museums of London and introduce you to the key scientific players of 1800’s academia. Additionally, through the eyes of her characters Chevalier is able to personify the perceptions and practices of early England resulting in an unexpectedly pleasant lesson in history.
Overall, the content of the novel is interesting while the story itself is tepid. And while I can’t recommend the book as a powerful read, it is definitely worth a trip to Tracy Chevalier’s site for more on the facts and fossils behind the story. Unfortunately, Remarkable Creatures is rather unremarkable.
-Post by Megan Shaffer