Curiosity

Curiosity

A Love Story

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
7
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Award-winning novelist Joan Thomas blends fact and fiction, passion and science in this stunning novel set in 19th-century Lyme Regis, England -- the seaside town that is the setting of both The French Lieutenant's Woman and Jane Austen's Persuasion .

More than 40 years before the publication of The Origin of Species , 12-year-old Mary Anning, a cabinet-maker's daughter, found the first intact skeleton of a prehistoric dolphin-like creature, and spent a year chipping it from the soft cliffs near Lyme Regis. This was only the first of many important discoveries made by this incredible woman, perhaps the most important paleontologist of her day.

Henry de la Beche was the son of a gentry family, owners of a slave-worked estate in Jamaica where he spent his childhood. As an adolescent back in England, he ran away from military college, and soon found himself living with his elegant, cynical mother in Lyme Regis, where he pursued his passion for drawing and painting the landscapes and fossils of the area. One morning on an expedition to see an extraordinary discovery -- a giant fossil -- he meets a young woman unlike anyone he has ever met…


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2010
ISBN: 9780771084171
Branch Call Number: THO
Characteristics: 409 p. ;,22 cm

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brianreynolds Sep 17, 2015

Surprisingly, considering my apprehensions about fusing historical "facts" to fiction's truths, I found Joan Thomas's Curiosity interesting on both levels. Her "love story" is both moving and humorous chiefly because the obstacles to the affair, class and fortune, are drawn so vividly and seamlessly. Even more, for me (perhaps because the current political atmosphere in my country is now one where Science is being hammered and shaped to fit the ideology of the present government) I enjoyed the battle between what are now obvious observations of Natural History and the amazing attempt to fit the geological discoveries of the early 19th century into the Christian Book of Genesis. How indeed did Noah get two Brontosaurs onto the Ark? I wonder if that keeps our Prime Minister awake at night?

f
FVReader
Nov 17, 2014

I had a difficult time getting into this book but the story of Mary Anning's life caught my interest and the writing issues became irrelevant.
I never really had a good handle on the time frame within the novel. The years just went by....one page Mary is 12 years old, the next she seems to be about 18 or so. That issue never resolves itself throughout the book but, again, the story is interesting and one just goes with the flow and forgets Mary's age or the time that is passing by.
This story focusses on a lot: gender issues (women had no voice), class issues (Mary's family's status as "low" class meant that "gentlemen" didn't see or hear them), it touched on creationism: in Mary's time, the Flood of Noah was thought to have been 3000 years ago and all the fossils were from that flood. This led to some issues with aging the fossils. There was also some very basic suggestions of evolution (although it wasn't called that yet).
Mary's story, although interesting, wasn't explored as deeply as I would have liked. I didn't feel that I got to know her or her thoughts; just her life's work.
Despite all that, I enjoyed this book. An interesting read.

m
ms_mustard
Dec 30, 2013

one of two novels about Mary Anning published in 2010 - the other is Remarkable Creatures. each tells her story well but the secondary characters are quite different. I enjoyed both books - read two years apart. fascinating story of an uneducated young Mary who becomes an excellent fossil hunter along the cliffs of Lyme Regis.

u
uncommonreader
Aug 02, 2012

This novel is based on the real life character, Mary Anning, in early 19th century Lyme Regis, who discovered fossils. Men took the credit for her finds. Interesting.

i
Ireadalot2
Jun 05, 2011

Slightly silly love stoy. I was hoping for a little more about the fossils.

j
jbeckber
Jan 25, 2011

A nice surprise - really enjoyed this book and found it intriguing. Mary Anning is someone I had never heard of and I liked the blend of history and fiction.

b
bmystic2
May 26, 2010

this is a great read -- wonderfully crafted, lots of story as well as history. Thomas explores the differences between men and women as well as class differences in Victorian England at the time of the discovery of ancient bones at the edge of Darwin's discoveries.
She was one of the authors presented at this year's Ottawa Writers Festival.

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