Clan of the Cave Bear is the first of the Earth's Children series of books. They've been on my to read list for ages, but then which book isn't? I liked the idea of pre-historic fiction and had heard that Jean M Auel brings our very early ancestors to life.
So why was this such a difficult book to review?
I enjoyed it. I liked the story. Ayla is orphaned by an earthquake at 5 and found close to death by a neanderthal medicine woman and adopted. The book follows her childhood with the neanderthal clan of the cave bear struggling to adapt and survive as an outsider. Ayla is Cro-Magnon so looks, thinks and behaves very differently from her family.
In the pursuit of 'what happens next' I can forgive most things. But that is not to say that they don't bother me. My main irk was the overly long and frequent descriptions of plants. Sometimes gathered for food, sometimes for medicinal purposes. I couldn't help but feel that this was Auel's need to show just how much research had been done. I am now quite confident that should I ever fall into a wormhole and end up in the Ice Age I at least won't go hungry.
I am in no position to judge how accurately she has portrayed day to day neanderthal life. I'm a little ashamed to admit that the sum of my knowledge may have been gleaned from the Friends episode where Ross and Rachel 'sleep over' at the museum.
But I was often left wondering how such complicated 'conversations' could be taking place without words only using hand gestures. But if you can suspend belief for a wee while and enjoy the ride it is good fun.
I took it back to the library feeling glad that I had read this one but with no great desire to read any more in the series. And then left the library with The Valley of the Horses the 2nd book in the Earth's Children series because my need to know what happens next is just too damn strong!