” . . . the human mind and heart excavated with delicate and devastating skill.” — Marina Endicott
“Curiosity is a delight. Set with marvels and rueful comedy, it’s a warmly intelligent feat of historical sympathy. Mary Anning, with her dead-reckoning gaze, moves through these pages like a muddy-booted angel.” — Greg Hollingshead.
In 1812, a 12 year-old girl dug the skeleton of what she thought was a dragon out of the cliff on an English beach. Mary Anning was poor and barely literate. Her astonishing find–– a thirty-foot Ichthyosaur from the Jurassic Period—turned the science of the day upside down and set the course of Mary’s life.
Set in Lyme Regis, Dorset, 40 years before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Curiosity tells the story of “the fossil girl” and her relationship with the gentry who stream to Lyme Regis in the wake of her fossil find. It’s a foray into an alien culture for Mary, who has only her own steady sense of self to guide her.
Henry de la Beche is the heir to a sugar plantation and has been shaped in unexpected ways by his childhood in Jamaica. In Lyme Regis he meets the solitary, determined, forthright Mary, and finds something his own experience has denied him. In the years when no one in England is talking about evolution, Mary Anning and Henry De la Beche find social convention, science, and religion inadequate to their experience and grope their way towards a private understanding.
Curiosity was edited by Lara Hinchberger. Designs by Terri Nimmo (hardcover) and Scott Richardson (paperback). It is published by McClelland and Stewart, 2010 (Canada) and Emblem Books, 2011 (Canada, US, UK)
Longlisted for the 2010 Scotia Bank Giller Prize
Shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
A Quill and Quire Book of the Year 2010
A Book of the Month, Amazon.ca
“A beautiful, erudite, and deeply pleasurable work.” The Walrus
“a brilliant, soulful, multilayered novel . . . reading Curiosity is like riding a time-machine back to the early 19th century.” Ottawa Citizen
“without question the best novel this reader has come across in the past year.” Quill and Quire
“rich and involved, in keeping with the traditions of the great English novelists—Fielding and Austen come to mind . . . gorgeous writing.” Prairie Fire Review of Books
” . . . an involving, finely crafted, ambitious novel . . . It’s fiction, of course, but it reads like life.” Saint John Telegraph Journal
“a wonderful, absorbing new novel . . . it makes us see the world from the eyes of people who do not know the concept of evolution.” Halifax Chronicle Herald
“a big, juicy read . . . . a credible and fascinating romance.” Elle Canada
“Extraordinary . . . a timeless story and an unforgettable one.” Montreal Gazette
” a precise reconstruction of the social and intellectual world of early 19th century England . . . a beautifully wrought work of literary art.” Winnipeg Free Press
” . . . magnificent prose that appeals to all the senses without grandiloquence.” Toronto Star
“Mary lives on the page with each thought, action, and word. . . . a thinking-person’s love story.” The Erudite Editor
“Thomas’s love story brilliantly explores the Victorian era’s rigid system of class and gender discrimination. . .” The Tyee.ca
“a book that you savour . . . Thomas has told a complex and profoundly relevant story in a highly readable way.” The Mark
” . . . subtle, full of intricacies and hidden thoughts and lost longing.” Sasquatch Radio
” . . . superb, thought-provoking.” St. Albert Gazette
“gentle and elegant and deft. . . . The prose is eloquent and poignant. . . .” Wandering Coyote
” . . . fascinating . . . ” Books Under Skin
”Everything [Thomas] writes rings true . . . beautifully told, full of the smell of the sea . . .” Lancette Arts Journal