It is often said that a benefit of belonging to a book discussion group is being required to read books that would not otherwise come home with you. This is true. I would not have chosen to read Remarkable Creature by Tracy Chevalier if it had not been our book for May. Having seen Girl with a Pearl Earring, I had a positive impression of Chevalier, but fiction is not my usual reading fare. (Although I have listened to several novels in the last month as it is often hard to find nonfiction audiobooks that I want.)
It certainly helped that Remarkable Creatures is historical, as history is one of my main interests, and the substantial dose of science made the book more appealing for me. I liked reading how fossils would have been discovered, collected, preserved, and studies in the early part of the nineteenth century. I also enjoyed the early women's rights movement part of the story. Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot are characters with who I sympathize, and I was glad to learn at the end that they were real people.
Of course, not everyone see things as I do. One member of the discussion group wished all the science had been cut by the author, but I don't think Chevalier would have had an interest in the story without the fossils and the issues of religious men of science accepting the idea of evolution. It appears that all her stories revolve around the history of women in the arts and science. Her novels might even make good listening for this summer's gardening if my supply of history and biography runs dry again.
Chevalier, Tracy. Remarkable Creatures. Dutton, 2010. 310p. ISBN 9780525951452.