Shelf Control #226: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!


Title: Remarkable Creatures
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Published: 2009
Length: 352 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In 1810, a sister and brother uncover the fossilized skull of an unknown animal in the cliffs on the south coast of England. With its long snout and prominent teeth, it might be a crocodile – except that it has a huge, bulbous eye.

Remarkable Creatures is the story of Mary Anning, who has a talent for finding fossils, and whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles such as that ichthyosaur shakes the scientific community and leads to new ways of thinking about the creation of the world.

Working in an arena dominated by middle-class men, however, Mary finds herself out of step with her working-class background. In danger of being an outcast in her community, she takes solace in an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, a prickly London spinster with her own passion for fossils.

The strong bond between Mary and Elizabeth sees them through struggles with poverty, rivalry and ostracism, as well as the physical dangers of their chosen obsession. It reminds us that friendship can outlast storms and landslides, anger and jealousy. 

How and when I got it:

I had my eye on this book as soon as it was released, and bought myself a used copy in 2010.

Why I want to read it:

It just sounds so interesting! I love reading about women going outside the norm for their time periods. What could be more unusual than female fossil hunters in the early 1800s? Mary Anning is a historical figure, and I’m so interested in learning more about her experiences.

I do need to admit that I’ve been especially interested in this book ever since reading Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel — a hidden gem of a book that’s a mash-up of Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice, and is wonderful in so many ways. In this book, Mary Bennet encounters Mary Anning and becomes involved in fossil hunting as well (and it’s amazing!).

I’ve only read one book by Tracy Chevalier (The Girl With the Pearl Earring), but so many of her titles look fascinating.

What do you think? Would you read this book? Are there other books by this author that you’d recommend?

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

7 thoughts on “Shelf Control #226: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

  1. I’m pretty sure I read this, and I know I have a copy. I loved The Girl With the Pearl Earring so I would have bought a copy for that reason😁

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