"Curiosity" by Joan Thomas
Forty years before Charles Darwin published his famous work, a young woman named Mary Anning made an important discovery in the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England.
At the age of twelve, Mary found the first ichthyosaur skeleton (a giant marine reptile that resembled a dolphin.) Her discovery countered the belief of the time in the Biblical account of creation and proved that extinction was a reality. She then went on to discover three other separate species.
But Mary couldn't fight the prevailing beliefs of the 19th century, and her gender and social class prevented her from receiving full credit for her contributions to the scientific community.
Curiosity tells the story of Mary's life and scientific contributions but with a more in depth look at her personal relationships with those around her. In addition to this, it examines a romantic relationship between Mary and her friend Henry De La Beche, a man of higher class standing.
I had a hard time getting into this book. It is obvious that Thomas has done a lot of research on this book and it incredibly captures the time period. But for some reason there just wasn't enough to it to keep me wanting to turn the page. When I picked up the book I was very interested in reading about Mary's discoveries and the reactions to them, but for me it felt like there was a lot to "learn" before I was allowed to get there. As well, the romance between Mary and Henry didn't seem to stir up too much emotion.
I think I may chalk up my not liking this book to the fact that I'm just not into historical fiction. I definitely learned a lot from the book (I had never heard of Mary Anning before I picked it up) but I think it just felt like more of an educational book than a novel and love story to me.