From the Amazon product description: On the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast, poor and uneducated Mary Anning learns that she has a unique gift: "the eye" to spot fossils no one else can see. When she uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious community on edge, the townspeople to gossip, and the scientific world alight. After enduring bitter cold, thunderstorms, and landslips, her challenges only grow when she falls in love with an impossible man. Mary soon finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster who shares her passion for scouring the beaches. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy, but ultimately turns out to be their greatest asset.
This was a great story! I've enjoyed a couple of Tracy Chevalier's other books Burning Bright and The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Each of those were historical fiction; they had a fictional story woven around a famous historical figure, Blake in Burning Bright and Vermeer in The Girl with a Pearl Earring. I liked this book better. Like the others, the main character was a real person but this time it wasn't anybody that most people would have heard of before. Mary Anning gained some notoriety in her time but her fifteen minutes of fame was over until this book brought her back. Her work, the recovery of fossils, has it's place in the local history of Lyme Regis but it's not something any one who didn't have a yen for fossils would know anything about. The result of unearthing all this is that the story felt fresh and exciting and I learned a little something at the same time. It was also a fairly short book at only 300 pages so it moved quickly and kept me engaged throughout.
I have more of Tracy Chevalier in my TBR pile and will look forward to reading more from her.
Chevalier has all sorts of interesting background and pictures at her web site. Those would be fun for a quick look even if you haven't read the book.
This book counts towards a few challenges...