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…
Joan Thomas, author
Joan Thomas’s debut novel, Reading By Lightning (2008), won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada/Caribbean) and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. Joan has worked as a teacher, group-home worker, editor, and as the Writing and Publishing consultant at the Manitoba Arts Council. She was a books columnist and longtime contributing reviewer for the Globe and Mail, and in 1996 won a National Magazine Award (Silver) for Creative Non-Fiction. Joan lives in Winnipeg.
- A precise reconstruction of the social and intellectual world of early 19th-century England [...]. [Thomas’s] research gives the characters depth [and] provides Mary with a delightfully distinctive voice [...]. A beautifully wrought [...] work of literary art. - Winnipeg Free Press
- A brilliant, soulful, multi-layered novel [...]. We are drenched in all the sights, sounds and smells of the era [and] become privy to the ecstasy and the agony of the doomed love affair between the two main characters [...]. Lush prose, compelling narrative and vivid characters [make] this one of the best books of the spring publishing season. - Ottawa Citizen
- Rich [...] [Thomas] practically burrows into the characters. Hers is magnificent prose that appeals to all the senses without grandiloquence. Equally important, Thomas handles the doctrinal debate raised by the then-budding field of geology with [great] subtlety and nuance. - Toronto Star
- Gripping[...] Mary Anning as portrayed by Joan Thomas stands in her own right as a memorable figure, vulnerable and indomitable at the same time. - National Post
- ["Curiosity"] explores the exquisite fragility of a love story that turns upon the lovers’ unblinking curiosity before the metaphysical change their work uncovers[...]. A beautiful, erudite, and deeply pleasurable work. - The Walrus
Rights Holder: Cooke International
rights available: World
number of pages: 416
publication date: 03/30/2010
Original language of pub: English
Materials Available: complete manuscript