Monday, January 2, 2012

Jean Auel and The Land of Painted Caves

In 1980 I read Jean Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear" and was immediately enthralled. In the following years, I read the other novels in the Earth's Children series and have enjoyed Auel's unique way of storytelling. The basic premise of the novels is that a young girl, Ayla, becomes separated from her Cro-Magnon family during an earthquake and is raised by a clan of Neanderthals. She learns their 'language' and adapts to their customs as best as she can, but her inherent and genetic differences eventually cause her to leave the clan and venture out on her own. In subsequent books, Ayla has a variety of adventures that allow Auel to explore the ideas of domestication of horses as well as hunting techniques, medicine and cultural identity. Ayla eventually meets someone like her, another Cro-Magnon, and follows him back to his people.

Auel's final book in the series, "The Land of Painted Caves" is the first book I've read on my new Nook Tablet. In fact, it is also the first book I downloaded from our library. And since I read this title over the Christmas holidays, it brings full circle my relationship with Auel's books since I received other titles in this series as gifts when I was in high school. I still love getting books for Christmas!

By far, this wasn't the best book in the series. It was repetitive and I skimmed over many of the sections. The plot was plodding, the conflicts were predictable, and the book could have used some tightening down as the repetitive backstory rehashing became tiresome. But, I was glad I read it and finished Ayla's story.

After 32 years of having this interesting heroine in my reading life, I now have a conclusion. So, thank you Ms. Auel for gifting us with Ayla and Jondalar and all the rest of the Earth's Children. I enjoyed the ride.

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