Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Setting Makes All the Difference in the World

One of the books I got for Christmas last month was Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures, which came highly recommended by my mother. 

The story was interesting, following two female proto-paleontologists in the early Regency.  Chevalier (whom most people might know as the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring) focused not only on the talent of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot (who really existed, by the way), but on the scientific community's utter lack of respect for said talent due to their being "only" women.  While I might have preferred that the theme of "poor me, I'm a spinster" had been a little less heavily applied throughout the novel, I suppose it's probably historically accurate.

What I will best remember about the novel, however, is the setting--Lyme Regis, host of Jane Austen's Persuasion and much of John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman, two of my all-time favorite novels.  Had this novel been set in Bath or in Brighton, it wouldn't have spoken to me nearly as strongly as envisioning the dramatic coast of Lyme Regis. 

I would highly recommend this book... and Persuasion... and The French Lieutenant's Woman.


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