Chevalier once again gives life and breath to not one but two women the world knows very little about. The young Mary Anning and spinster Elizabeth Philpot live out an extraordinary and beautiful friendship, along with all of it's major ups and downs-and by that I mean jealousy, sacrifice, and Blue Lias dust.
That's one of the things I loved most about this book. Chevalier didn't make her heroines larger than life or any more perfect than they needed to be. Mary had a big head, and Elizabeth felt much too sorry for herself most of the time without doing anything about it. It made the story come alive for me, and made me believe that these extraordinary women weren't so different from us today. These two women changed the course of scientific ideas by scouring the beach in search of "curies," or fossils-a tedious and backbreaking job. Mary managed to find numerous fossilized skeletons of ichthyosarus, and plesiosaurs, and became famous throughout the geological world, even though her name rarely was mentioned when the finds were publicized. (Apparently, women didn't have the capacity to appreciate the value of something so significant.) Throughout, Elizabeth gave encouragement and defended Mary's name.
After closing the book, it's impossible not to be thankful for such an uplifting and beautiful story!