Sunday, July 22, 2012

Curiosity: A Review

"The best historical novels effortlessly transport their readers back into the past, while less successful attempts bury the reader in musty research and leave the characters to gather dust. Curiosity, the sophomore effort from Winnipeg-based author Joan Thomas, falls decisively in the former camp. Right from its powerful opening, the novel buffets readers with the inescapable momentum of waves against the Dorset cliffs."
I agree fully with the above statement from Quill & Quire's review of Joan Thomas's [2010] novel, Curiosity.
This is one of those quiet "sleeper" books I want to heartily endorse to my Bookpuddle readers.
I have always been fascinated with dinosaurs, since I was a little kid. I had a brief phase of being obsessed with Egyptology, too -- but always came back to the dinosaurs/fossils -- as a sort of first love. So, when I first saw Joan Thomas's book in the stores, the cover intrigued me.
Along with the depiction of pre-history was the subtitle "A Love Story".
I was hooked.
I have finally read the thing.

It is a dandy!

It's the story of young Mary Anning, scouring the oceanside cliffs of Lyme Regis for fossils. It was her lifelong passion, and she had a knack for discovery that eluded the "scientific" geniuses of the day. This was the early 1800's -- pre-Darwinian Victorian England -- where "science" was still bound to the expectation of fulfilling an existing mold of religious prerequisites.
Young Mary was [daily] finding stuff that definitely defied scriptural explanation!
She sold most of these items at her little "Curiosity" stand -- sold them as trinkets. And soon Mary began finding bigger items, entire skeletons of grandiose beasts, mentioned nowhere in the Bible! The very sedimentary strata of Lyme Regis itself began to fill her mind with questions -- How could the Earth be merely "thousands" of years old, as most of the leading scientists of the day still believed it to be?

For all of Mary Anning's discoveries, she never was to receive the recognition she deserved -- such were the patriarchal prejudices of her day! Joan Thomas has given us as fine a novel as any, to delineate the absurdities of the Victorian era when it came to the fulfillment of true love across class boundaries -- and recognition of the intellectual equality of women, to men.
This is any thinking-person's page-turner.
Written in such an elegant, very much flawless manner, that my own words can only do an injustice.
Do you find yourself somewhat interested?
Then, just think! In this brief review I have not even gotten to the topic of the subtitle:
"A Love Story."
Just get it.
Read it.


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