From the moment she’s struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear Mary Anning is different. Though poor and uneducated, she discovers on the windswept beaches of the English coast that she has a unique gift: “the eye” to spot fossils no one else can see. When Mary uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious fathers on edge, the townspeople to gossip-and the scientific world alight. In an arena dominated by men, however, Mary is barred from the academic community; as a young woman with uncommon interests, she is suspected of sinful behavior. Nature is a threat, throwing bitter cold, storms and landslips at her. And when she falls in love, it is with an impossible man.
Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster recently exiled from London, who shares he passion for scouring the beaches. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy. Ultimately, in the struggle to be recognized in the wider world, Mary and Elizabeth discover that friendship is their greatest ally.
Remarkable Creatures is an inspiring novel of how one woman’s gift transcends class and social prejudice to lead to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century. Above all, it is a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship.
(Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.)