Elizabeth Philpot is content to be a spinster as long as she can have certain freedoms, like collecting fossils. Mary Anning is a young girl with the ability to spot fossils even if they are buried in the sand and stone. The two soon began to hunt together and as Mary grows, she and Elizabeth become friends. The friendship is threatened at times by gentlemen, love, and collectors, but the respect they have for each other binds them together, especially in a time where women were not respected and treated as "spare parts."
The book follows the life of these two remarkable women, who were both real people and Chevalier uses many facts in her books. It is historical fiction, so the dialogue and relationships in the book are fictitious, but I liked how she showed the limits on women's lives during the 1800s. In the book group we talked about how women's lives are still limited and how women have to deal with similar problems even in today's more accepting world.
I loved her writing style and her use of the past. This was not a quick or exciting read, but she develops characters well and keeps you interested in their lives. 4.5 cups of cocoa!