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Celebrate more than 150 years of Canada with 150 books.

Nino Ricci Recommends

Curiosity by Joan Thomas


(From Joan Thomas' site)

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.

Joan Thomas

(From Joan Thomas' site)

Joan Thomas is the author of three novels. Reading by Lightning,  published in 2008 by Goose Lane Editions, won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean) and the First Novel Award, and was nominated for the International IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award.  Curiosity was published in April 2010 by McClelland & Stewart. It was named a Quill and Quire Book of the Year and was nominated for the ScotiaBank Giller Prize and the  International IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award. The Opening Sky, which came out in 2014, won the McNally Robinson Prize for Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction.

Joan grew up on the Canadian prairies and lives in Winnipeg. She and her husband have one daughter. She studied English at the University of Winnipeg and taught high school English in three different schools, as well as in a teacher-training program in the Caribbean. She’s worked as a freelance writer, reviewer, and editor, and as Writing and Publishing consultant for the Manitoba Arts Council.

Joan Thomas was a longtime contributing reviewer for the Globe and Mail. Her interview-based features with writers were published in the Winnipeg Free Press and Prairie Fire. In 1999 she was co-editor (with Heidi Harms) of Turn of the Story: Canadian Short Fiction on the Eve of the Millennium (House of Anansi Press). In 2010, she, along with Pasha Malla and Alissa York, selected the stories for the Journey Prize Anthology (McClelland & Stewart).