De auteur, bekend van Meisje met de parel, verraste me opnieuw met een zeer leesbare historische roman over twee fossielen zoekende vrouwen aan de Zuid-Engelse kust. De vriendschap en de rivaliteit tussen de beide vrouwen, een jonge arbeidersvrouw met een liefde voor archeologie en een oudere vrijgezelle dame, en hun strijd tegen de heersende moraal in Victoriaans Engeland wordt op een levendige manier beschreven. De sfeer van Lyme Regis, een populaire badplaats waar nog steeds veel fossielen gevonden worden, is uitstekend getroffen. Geweldige roman voor liefhebbers van historische romans en Engeland.
I was particularly frustrated, as the fossils I was finding were so very puzzling, and filled me with questions I wanted to air. Ammonites, for instance, the most visible and striking of the fossils found at Lyme: What exactly were they? I could not believe they were snakes, as so many unquestioningly did. Why would they curl up into balls? I had never heard of snakes doing such a thing. And where were their heads? I looked carefully each time I found an ammonite, but could discover no trace of a head. It was very peculiar that I could find so many fossils of them on the beach, and yet not see them alive.
This did not seem to bother others, however. I hoped someone might suggest to me over a cup of tea in our parlor, ‘Do you know, Miss Philpot, ammonites remind me rather of snails. Do you think they might be a sort of snail we haven’t seen before?’ Instead they talked about the mud on the road from Charmouth; or what they were going to wear to the next bal or the traveling circus they were going to Bridport to see. If they did say something about fossils, it was to question my interest. ‘How can you be so fond of mere stones?’ a new friend Margaret brought back from the Assembly Rooms once asked.
‘They’re not just stones,’ I tried to explain. ‘They are bodies that have become stone, of creatures that lived long ago. When one finds them, that is the first time they have been seen for thousands of years.’
‘How horrible!’ she cried and turned to listen to Margaret play.
Belinda Starling – De vrouw van de boekbinder
Ariana Franklin – Meesteres van de kunst des doods
Jane Austen – Overtuiging