Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Reviews – Remarkable Creatures and Jane Addams: Spirit in Action

Ammonites in the pavement outside the Lyme Regis Museum
I haven’t written any book reviews in a while, so I thought I’d tell you about two books I read last month, before I have to return one to the library.  That one was called Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.  A friend told me about it at lunch one day.  It’s set in the 19th century on the English coast and is about two amateur female archaeologists.  Elizabeth is one of three sisters who all moved to the shore (Lyme Regis)  after loosing their chances, I suppose, of marrying.  The other, Mary, is a poor girl who lives with her mother and brother in the town.  She has a special gift of finding fossils.


Mary Anning with her dog, Tray, painted before 1833.
Even though the book is classified as a novel, the characters are real.   (Spoiler alert…)  Mary’s work contributed to “fundamental changes that occurred during her lifetime in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.”  (quote from Wikipedia)  I didn’t know this when I started reading the book.

I found the layout interesting; each chapter takes turn between the two main characters (Mary and Elizabeth), talking in first person.  I’m interested in archaeology but you don’t have to, to enjoy this story.  It might be a bit slow to begin with, but gets interesting very quickly.  I highly recommend it.

The other book I read was for my February Book Club.  It was called Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louise W. Knight.  I have to say that I don’t remember hearing about Jane in all my reading of women’s history.  It’s hard to say what she’s best known for: being the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, co-founding the first American settlement house in Chicago (Hull House), or co-founding the NAACP and the ACLU.  As you can tell by her “resume” she was an activist, for women, minorities and children.  If you’re enjoy 20th century history, this book is a great resource.  If you’re interested in fascinating women, it is a must read.  The book comes with photos, a great index, and notes; I didn’t use the Notes in the back of the book but it’s nice to have.

7 comments:

Linda Blatchford said...

Great reviews. I read alot about Jane Adams growing up in Chicago. There was a Jane Adams house and other landmarks.

Abby / Linda said...

Thanks for the reviews! Actually hubby and I are considering the layout that you talked about: first one voice and then the other in repeating chapters for our own legacy book. We are working on the layout now, and gathering our thoughts. We are compiling our life history for our blended family.

pasqueflower said...

I need to check out the Jane Addams book. Thank you for the reviews.

Splendid Little Stars said...

I read, or rather listened to, Remarkable Creatures. very interesting!

Natashalh said...

I think my mom would like both of those! I'll have to keep them in mind for presents. She has this totally extraneous degree in Victorian women's history and loves reading about 19th and early 20th century women and things they accomplished.

Sarah~Magnolia Surprise said...

I've enjoyed several of Tracy Chevalier's novels so will look for this one at the library. I'll have to check out the Jane Addams book too -- sounds very interesting!
(copying my reply to the email -- I meant to put it here!!)

jeannettestgermain said...

Would like the read the first book, because the characters seem interesting. With the second, looking at her pic, one wouldn't say she was an activist. How people look out of their eyes, I guess is also a sign of the times:)
Glad you could see Santa Barbara again on my blog:)

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