If books are a dead form, why do I find myself buying and reading more of them lately? Antidote to the Net?
Another new one on my To Read list is by Tracy Chevalier who does a good job of making history live for me. She has written books set in medieval France, 18th century London and 17th century Holland.
Her most famous book is Girl with a Pearl Earring - the story of a Dutch teenager who became a maid in the painter Vermeer's household, and became the subject (in the novel) of one of his most famous works, "Girl with a Pearl Earring." (It was also a film - which doesn't hurt sales.)
Her newest novel is called Remarkable Creatures. I don't think saying that it focuses on a 19th century fossil hunter named Mary Anning will make many people jump to read it (I happen to like fossils, but hang in a minute.)
Chevalier first encountered Anning while visiting a small museum:
"I had never heard of her. I learned from the display that she was a working-class girl who had lived in Lyme Regis, which is on the south coast of England, and had been fossil hunting with her father, and one day she and her brother discovered a huge specimen of what turned out to be an icthyosaur, an ancient marine reptile about 200 million years old. [She] had no idea what it was — thought it was a crocodile — and went on to discover another ancient marine reptile called a plesiosaur. She was completely self-taught, never had any formal education, was very poor [and] found these things for a living."
Anning became an important figure in the world of paleontology. Chevalier started the novel after she discovered an incident from Anning's childhood - she struck by lightning as a baby and survived it and lived to tell the tale.
OTHER BOOKS BY CHEVALIER
Girl with a Pearl Earring
The Lady and the Unicorn
The Virgin Blue