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Synopsis

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.

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    This is one of the best books I have read recently! It was a fascinating look into the world of the emerging science of paleontology, and a wonderful homage to one of its unsung heroes. Although Mary's story is a little romanticized, it is obvious that the author did her research. I also feel that it gives us an insight into the mores of the times. I found particularly interesting the use of the bathing machines. I just had to look them up!

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