Chevalier, best known for writing
Girl With a Pearl Earring, explores the unconventional aspects of two women's conventional lives. This charming story will certainly appeal to lovers of Jane Austen and natural history.
Mary Anning is marked for greatness when she's struck by lightning and survives. But her greatness is limited by her gender and her social station, despite the "eye" she develops for finding first-of-their-kind fossils in the cliffs of her English coastal town.
When quietly genteel Elizabeth Philpot discovers that she and Mary have a shared affinity for fossils, both of their lives change. As their finds move from the usual to the unusual, the two women begin to question their place in the world as well as conventional scientific wisdom. Their relationship is at times uneasy, marred by envy and their class differences. Still, a steadfast loyalty shapes their friendship, making both women strong enough to face their critics. (DUTTON, Jan., 320 pp., $26.95)