Lightning Mary

Publisher: Andersen Press

Review

In the early 1800s, Mary grows up in a poor household in Lyme Regis, where her father collects and sells fossils (or, devil’s toenails and ram’s horns, as the young Mary calls them). As Mary grows older, she begs to be taken on a fossil hunt, and eventually her father agrees, even though the beach is perilous and landslides have killed many men.

After her father dies following a terrible accident, Mary takes on the role of fossil dealer with her mother who is determined that they won’t end up in the workhouse following Mary’s father death. Mary doesn’t give up looking for something special, and one day she finds it.

Lightning Mary tells the true story of Mary Anning, a Victorian palaentologist whose discoveries of the ichthyosaur (followed by a plesiosaur and pterosaur) contributed to changes in scientific thinking about the history of the earth.

Mary’s story of eventual triumph over adversity is told expertly by Simmons, who doesn’t stint in reminding us just how hard life was for the young Mary. Simmons shows us the challenges of class, poverty and the expectations of women that Mary was subject to, but also how her passion, hard work and stubbornness helped her transcend those considerable restrictions. A brilliant read.

Share this page with your friends

More books like this

Opal Plumstead

Author: Jacqueline Wilson Illustrator: Nick Sharratt

Fourteen-year-old Opal's family falls on hard times when her accountant father foolishly forges a cheque to support his family.

Read more about Opal Plumstead

The Secret Message

Author: John Townsend

This short novel tells the story of Sam, who discovers the diary which his great-great-grandfather wrote during World War I. One of a new series of 'Cold Fusion' books suited to more able readers.

Read more about The Secret Message