The Fossil Hunter – Historical Novel Society

Written by Tea Cooper
Overview by Bethany Latham

This dual-period novel follows independent-minded Penelope Jane “PJ” Martindale, an ambulance driver who, upon the Armistice, heads to London in 1919. Her brothers had been misplaced within the struggle, and relations together with her physician father, who blames her for his sons’ enlistment, are strained. However her American fiancé, Sam, has survived, and when PJ takes an impulsive journey to the Pure Historical past Museum and turns into intrigued by an ichthyosaur fossil she sees there, she convinces Sam to accompany her to the placement the place it was discovered – Bow Wow Gorge, in New South Wales, Australia. Her brothers camped on this Gorge, and he or she quickly learns that within the 1840s, a gaggle of ladies went fossil-hunting there and supposedly by no means returned. Regardless of Sam’s misgivings, PJ is compelled to find what occurred to them.

In the meantime, within the 1840s, pre-teen Mellie Vale recovers from a horrible fever to find she’s an orphan – her father has been executed for homicide whereas she was in poor health. When the daughters of the household who takes Mellie in head out for his or her annual journey to spend time with Anthea Winstanley, a fossil hunter and paleontologist, Mellie accompanies them. Mellie and “Aunt” Anthea rapidly bond, and each stay for fossil searching journeys into the Bow Wow Gorge, which Anthea hopes will end result within the discovery of bones from prehistoric “sea dragons” – ichthyosaurs.

Whereas male characters are broad-stroked, feminine characterization is powerful, leading to emotional funding – cringing on the “imply lady” slights to which Mellie is subjected, sharing her pleasure at fossil-hunting and pitying her desperation for the consolation of mother-figure Anthea. Sense of place for the New South Wales setting is strong. Cooper is an completed storyteller, using the dual-timeline system to foster pressure and suspense concerning the destiny of Anthea and the women. The result’s an absorbing story with a powerful thriller aspect and feminist bent, with particular enchantment for these within the historical past of dinosaur hunters.