Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel
by Shelby Pelt Van
Hardcover- $19.59

A New York Times Bestseller!

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“Remarkably Bright Creatures is a beautiful examination ...

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  "remarkably bright creatures" by refreem (see profile) 12/11/22

wonderful characters, humors lines, thoughtful plotting

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/02/23

Beautifully written with great character development.

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  "Remarkably Bright Creatures" by AModic (see profile) 04/27/23

I loved this book and we are reading it later this year/early next year. It was an interesting way to complete the journies of the main characters. I enjoyed their relationship and the odd intimacy that you could feel as you navigated the story.

  "" by AnnMC (see profile) 05/04/23

Absolutely loved the octopus. He was so humorous.

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/30/23

Relationship of older woman and loss of her son woven with her relationship with octopus in aquarium

  "A joy to read!" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 06/30/23

Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt, author; Marin Ireland, Michael Urie, narrators
Tova Sullivan is 70 years old. She is quite the perfectionist. She also seems a bit stand-offish and prefers her privacy. She is a cleaner at the aquarium in the fictional town of Sowell Bay, on the Puget Sound in Washington State. She is a reliable and dedicated employee. She doesn’t shirk her duties and treats her menial labor professionally. She actually greets all the sea creatures when she is there, as if it is a social call. According to Tova, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Tova always chooses the right way.
At the aquarium, there is an octopus named Marcellus McSquiddles. When Marcellus escapes from his tank, Tova saves him from impending death. That meeting was kismet. Their friendship, strange as it may seem, flourishes, as each adds meaning to the other’s life. Then, one day, as she reaches into the tank to commune with Marcellus, her stepstool collapses and she injures her ankle. Soon, her foot is in a protective boot. She will not be able to work for several weeks. Will Marcellus miss her? From this point on, her thoughts about her past, present and future impact her decisions. She begins to wonder how she will get along without any relatives to help her if she becomes incapacitated. She does not want to be a burden to her friends. Tova belongs to a group called the Knit-Wits. Once a knitting group of seven women, they have dwindled down to just four. These four, however, are great friends who support each other and meet regularly to bond. Tova’s husband, Will, recently died of Cancer. Her son Erik Ernest Lindgren Sullivan, drowned when he was 18 years old. Although it was ruled a suicide, Tova will never believe that. He was an expert boater and swimmer. She knows that Erik was not unhappy. He was a great student, a fantastic athlete, and a popular well-liked classmate. Still, she is alone, so after the death of her brother with whom she was never close, she decides to make changes in her life. She visits the facility where he had lived, to begrudgingly straighten out his affairs, and wonders if she should move there too.
Cameron Cassmore is a 30-year-old, kind of a no-account, immature and irresponsible young man. He is married to Katie. After listening to his excuses about his failures too many times, she gives up. It seems he cannot hold a job and blames the world and everyone in it for his lack of success. She finally tosses his belongings out the window and throws him out of her life. With no place to go, he crashes at his friend Brad and Elizabeth Burnett’s home and then leans on his only relative, Aunt Jeanne, for support. Cameron’s mom, Daphne, had abandoned him when he was nine, and she was never heard from again. He does not know who his father was, but wants desperately to find out. A class ring gives him a clue, and after internet sleuthing, he believes Simon Brinks, a rich eccentric might be his father. He flies off on a mission to find him when he discovers that this Simon might be a real estate developer, in Washington State. He leaves Modesta, Ca for Seattle. When the airline loses his luggage, and all he owns, he is devastated. He leans on his aunt for a loan, and he purchases a broken-down camper from a stranger with a portion of the money. When he arrives in Sowell Bay, the camper is useless and needs repairs, requiring most of the rest of the money. Still, he can live in the camper without moving it. He accepts help from the talkative owner of a grocery, Ethan Mack. Ethan is kind of the friendly, town gossip. Cameron then gets a temporary job at the aquarium, replacing Tova, and begins to slowly pay his aunt back. Soon, he and Tova meet. The trajectory of Cameron’s life begins to change. He is surprised that he actually likes his job and the people around him. They seem to welcome him and treat him with a bit of respect, he treats them well, in kind.
Marcellus McSquiddles is also very much a character. A giant Pacific octopus, he has a life span of approximately 4 years. Marcellus relates the fact that he was rescued as a juvenile, and has, perhaps, no more than six more months left to live. His intelligence and interpretations of events guide the narrative along as he interacts as an very cogent and thoughtful “individual”. Slowly, he counts down the days of his captivity, from the time of his rescue from the sea, severely injured. He misses the total darkness and freedom. He interacts with Tova and Cameron. The “humanity” of the octopus is surprising. His intelligence is overwhelming. His comments and relationships are heartwarming.
As the relationships of all of the characters are explored, the reader will witness the changes that are possible in a person when that person begins to feel more worthwhile and appreciated, and will also see the changes that are the consequence of when they feel neglected and unappreciated. This story is based on a series of unexpected, and maybe a little contrived, coincidences that probably would never occur in real life in such great a number, but it is the most heart-warming and tender story I have read in a long time. It doesn’t contain politics, and that is such a welcome relief. It is just a lovely story about ordinary people. It is about how they treat each other and how that shapes them and the world around them. It is about how they relate to each other and to other living things. It is both stirring and refreshing, as it addresses each character and the style with which they engage with each other in the world around them. It highlights their loyalty, kindness, frailty and weakness. It illustrates the way all creatures feel, not just human ones. Tova has more kindness insight than most people, but lacks a bedside manner. Marcellus has more intelligence and intuition, and must find a way to express it. while Cameron has a chip on his shoulder. He is kind of immature and defensive, too quick to feel slighted. Each has been hurt by circumstances beyond their control. Each will deal with life’s detritus in their own way. The reader will watch with wonder, as they develop and grow toward what we hope will be, a happy ending.
The narrators who read this novel were utterly spot-on with each scene and character.

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 07/19/23

What a story!!! We are still talking about Marcellus! Loved him so much and so loved this story! Gorgeous!

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 08/05/23

I love this book! Such a beautiful story with some fun funny moments. Highly recommend

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 08/24/23

This book really makes you stop and think. It is well written and keeps your attention.

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 09/26/23

I wasn’t sure about our first book club book but it turned out to be a favorite. It was different from just books I read so I liked that. It was interesting and kept your attention. Highly recommend.

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/05/23

I really enjoyed, it was a fast read that kept me engaged and entertained. The story was creative and sweet.

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/08/23

I LOVED this book! I’m not usually drawn to these types of characters but the interaction and interconnection between species(!!!) and generations was beautiful. It broke my heart and then sewed it back together, sometimes in the same chapter.

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  "Just WHO is the Remarkably Bright Creature?" by lpollinger (see profile) 11/28/23

Marcellus is a giant Pacific Octopus that has been rescued from the sea and placed in an aquarium. He has a very short life span. Tova has lost her husband and many years ago lost her only son, she now works as a cleaning lady at the aquarium. Unbelievably she and Marcellus become friends and he ends up showing her how to get over the past, while she gives him the ending he needs.

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 02/04/24

Charming characters, beautifully written, hated to see it end

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 03/04/24

I adored the hell out of it. Marcellus is the best! It was a sci-fi mystery love story about friendship and cold oceans and small towns and grief. I missed it so much after I finished. I still do!

  "" by Wallace6425 (see profile) 03/06/24

  "Fun Read" by [email protected] (see profile) 03/11/24

This was a cute story about loss and new beginnings! The dynamic of the characters were fun and easy to picture yourself right with them. I love the unique way the author adds the octopus as a main character. Very cute!

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 03/16/24

This was a very sweet and heartwarming story, although it was predictable.

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  "Remarkably Bright Creatures" by mkrupiak (see profile) 05/31/24

One of the best stories I have read recently! It was such a fresh story- and so beautifully written. The emotions run from humor to absolute sadness..... but it is worth every moment! You can't read this book and not be affected - and I will never think of an octopus in the same way..... LOVED IT!

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