* Prices may differ from that shown
A fabulous book. The Clan of the Cave Bear is the first of Auel's Earth's Children series. Considering this one was first published in 1980, they have done well to be still in print and picking up new readers (like me) 30 years on.
The novel is set around the time of the last Ice Age around 30,000 years ago (and before it got really cold - I think the peak was about 15,000 years ago but I'm not an expert). There were two distinct human forms around at that time: the Neandertal (or Neanderthal), and the early modern human (homo sapiens, or Cro-Magnon human). Jean Auel incorporates them both into this epic tale, showing them as quite distinct, quite different people and yet with a number of similarities too, which may well have enabled them to live alongside each other sharing the planet for some years. The book is clearly extremely well researched but perhaps because the history and science from this Upper Paleolithic / Late Stone Age period is not a precise science and theories regularly revised, it's a period which allows plenty of free reign to the author's (and reader's) imagination as well.
This epic story follows the fortunes and misfortunes of one Neanderthal clan, the Clan of the Cave Bear - a small clan group whose number tends to be between 20 and 30 people at any time; men, women and children. When a natural disaster forces them to travel to seek out a new home and a new cave, a chance sighting of a young sick and injured girl of the 'Others' (a Cro-Magnon child) speaks to the heart and soul of one Clan woman who decides to look after the child and adopt her as her own. The child is Ayla. She's 5 years old, lost and alone, and with her gangly limbs, her blonde hair and blue eyes, she's quite markedly different from the short, stocky, dark-haired Clan that have taken her into their home. Will Ayla fit in? Will she be able to communicate with these strangers? Will they accept her? Will she survive? Can there be any future for this strange girl with her strange ways?.....
Imaginative, believable, and one of the best historical (or pre-historical!) novels I've read. Highly recommended 5 stars.
The Earth's Children series in order:
1. The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980)
2. The Valley of Horses (1982)
3. The Mammoth Hunters (1985)
4. The Plains of Passage (1990)
5. The Shelters of Stone (2002)
6. The Land of Painted Caves (2011)
When I received this book through the post my first instinct was that it wasn't a book I'd enjoy and knowing me, I'd probably put it down never to touch it or read it ever again. Well that's what judging the front cover does! Considering my rating you have probably realised that my first instinct wasn't my best instinct I've ever had. I fully enjoyed this book, and I SHALL be reading the next few books in the series, I shall also be watching the film, and since no one has reviewed it yet, I might just decide to review it.
Jean M. Auel is an author I have never ever heard of, and even though she wrote this book way back in 1980 (13 years before I was born). She is a completely new author to me. So after reading this book I went on the internet to find some information about her. I found out that she was born in 1936 making her currently 74 years old and she was born in Chicago. She has only ever written books for the "Earth's Children" saga, which "Clan of the Cave Bear" is the first novel in the series. I also found out that there is currently five books in the series, and a sixth book is on it's way and will be released in 2011, the thing is, this book shall be the FINAL book in the series, and so therefore I doubt Jean M. Auel will be writing anymore books.
Before I start to tell you about the story line of this amazing book, I want to share with you the funny little thing that happened to me. After I had finished this book, my mom asks me what I have been reading. So I tell her the name of the book and what it is about. She soon stops me and tells me that she thought it looked familiar. So she then goes searching for the book she believes this one looks like. She finds it, and guess what? It is the exact same book, and she tells me she has been a fan of Jean M. Auel since she was 17 (which she was in 1980, when this book was released). So I ended up buying this book and receiving it through the post, to only find out after I've read the book that I already had the book in this house somewhere.
Right, after that small but humorous tale, here is what the story is about. Ayla is only five years old when an Earthquake separates her from her mother. She ends up looking for her for a few days, and at one point she manages to escape from a cave lion.
She is later found by a group of Neanderthal Cave Men and Women; they are searching for a new cave as their last one was destroyed by the Earthquake. After much debating Ayla is allowed to stay with the group, as long as she pulls her weight and sticks to the rules of the group.
We follow her life as a lot of people end up trying to hurt her and destroy her, you get a lot of emotion towards her, and you feel so sorry for her. Ayla is clearly of the "Others" who are the other clan group who lives on earth, and they clearly don't like each other. Can Ayla learn to live by this group's rules, or will she endlessly rebelling until she is thrown out or worse?
I believe this is just a fun loveable read; however, the author must have spent ages finding all the necessary background information about what it was like in those days. If she hadn't got all the information and made it up as she went along, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much as I did. It pretty much seemed as if this really happened back in those Cave Men days, and it is pretty easy to imagine that actually happening. To be totally honest, this book at least helps you to learn more about the ways of Cave people and how they lived, I have to admit, I quite enjoyed reading this, as it helped me to truly understand what it was like there, and I could imagine being Ayla for the day (or an hour), before having to come back into my own world. To be honest, this taught me more than some of my history teachers did about Cave men's life. This is what I always say, scrap text books, and create all the information into a fictionalised book. I know personally that all the information that would be contained within that book, I would know off by heart, and when I go into an exam, I would definitely know the answer to every question. However I very much doubt text books will become fictionalised novels.
This book can easily be described as a historical novel, I don't see how this book could become anything else, I totally enjoyed this novel, and it is probably the first historical novel I have ever come across, and so therefore maybe I have found another genre I fully enjoy, or maybe it was just Jean M. Auel's brilliant writing, I'll probably find out soon enough the more books I read.
This book is definitely a book that stands out from the rest (I seem to be saying that about every book at the moment.) This book is like no other book I have ever come across, as I keep mentioning. And I fully enjoyed this. I don't think this book is similar to any book I know of, however I am very certain there is possibly some books somewhere that are also historical novels, and are just as good as this one, however I have never come across any as of yet however, I am only 17 years old and will probably find one similar as I get older. If you personally think this book is similar to any books, I'm open to suggestions, and I'll read them and find out if you are right.
Personally I fell in love with this story right from the start the writing style of Jean M. Auel is just amazing and it manages to grip you within seconds, and you seriously don't want to stop reading. It is a really interesting book and it seems very vivid at times, and you feel the emotion run straight through you, and that is when you realise that this book is one of the best books you have ever come across in your entire life.
This book was definitely an interesting read, purely because you were never quite sure what was going to happen next, and I was always surprised at each turning of events. From the very start I was gripped and I was totally in love with this book, and I think the writing style is what made this book a joy to read. Also the ending shocked me, and I totally loved it. I didn't know what was going to happen, and when it did I was extremely shocked and I felt really sorry for Ayla. It was an amazing ending, and I don't think I will come across such an interesting, shocking ending! It is a pure fun read but it also is a book to make you think about what it was like back then. The emotions of Ayla and the other people within the group was really shown really well within the story, and when they laughed, you laughed, when they were sad, you were sad, and when they were upset you also was upset, this really shows how much of a great author Jean M. Auel is as only a few authors in the world have ever made me feel as emotionally as this book did. It is definitely a book I will keep in my heart for a long time, and I don't think I will ever forget such an amazing story line. Given the chance I would definitely re-read this book, but as I keep mentioning I have too many books in my house that all need reading by me, that I doubt I will ever be able to re-read a book, no until I have caught up with the amount of books I get.
So who will the book appeal to? That is one of the worst questions people ask me, as everyone is different, and every book is different. I thought that historical novels were not my sort of genre, however this book has changed my mind and made me believe that I will enjoy other historical fiction, however I am not too sure if that is just the book's idea or mind, and I'll probably find out in the near future that historical fiction, after all, is for me. This book isn't just for the historians out there; I think it will appeal to everyone across the nation; however I could be totally wrong. By the looks of things this book gripped a load of people back in 1980 and I believe it is still growing strong, and if you are definitely wondering if this book is for you, I would totally just take a leap at it, and see if it is for you, as I'm sure this book would be loved by lots of people. And still is.
I always state on most of my reviews that children's reading shouldn't ever be censored, however some books are ones that should never even be touched by young people's hands. This book does contain some sexual scenes, which are totally understandable, as I can see it actually happening back in those days. However, some people may find it offensive, and it seems pretty much like rape. Although this appears in the book, it is only in there for a few chapters and it really shows to the readers how Ayla feels about this and you find it really easy to relate to her. Personally, I reckon a teenager will find this book really good and understand what is happening, but anyone younger may not understand. It is really up to you to decide, as everyone is different, I still have friends who are avid readers, just like me, but could never ever read a book that contains mild sexual references. I think it depends on the certain type of person you are and how you deal with things.
This book is amazing and nothing and I truly mean that, nothing lets it down. Everything within the book gripped me to the end; I loved Ayla and her Clan guardian Iza. However you learn to hate the leader's Son, Broud, who will not give Ayla the time of day, and really resents her, the ending really shows this and as Ayla becomes more and more loved by the rest of the Clan, Broud hates her more and more and he believes she is taking his popularity from him. Personally, if the book was set in modern times, I believe Broud would be described as a Male chauvinist pig; he seems exactly like that but worse. Purely because each clan member has a role they play. There are Male and Female roles within the Clan and so therefore chauvinists weren't around in those sorts of times. You love to hate Broud as time goes on, and he really got me annoyed at times. This shows that Jean M. Auel is an amazing author, and I definitely intend on reading her other books!
Now usually on my book reviews I rarely touch upon the book cover, purely because I don't think it's important. However this book's cover is especially important, because it made me not want to read the book. The old saying is "Never judge a book by its cover" this is now constantly used in everyday life to describe not only books, but to also describe people and inanimate objects. However I'm using this saying in a book sense, due to the fact that you cannot tell me there is a person on this planet who doesn't judge a book by its cover. You cannot possibly tell me, you go into Waterstones or another book seller, and pick up every book you see, and read the blurb (the writing on the back of the book). A) It is impossible, surely Waterstones has at least two thousand books in a single shop, and B) There would be no reason to have book covers if everyone did it. So when you walk into a book shop, you pick up the books which covers stand out from the rest, and usually the better book covers, have the better storyline. However this book is quite he opposite, with a brilliant storyline, but not a very good cover. This cover would probably have been a good cover in 1980, but now in the 21st century, it is probably classed as one of the worst covers on a shelf. Covers are what make books unforgettable and distinct; one certain cover could shine, where as all the others could fade into one another.
I recently found out that this book was made into a film in 1986, personally I have not watched it, but I do plan on going out side (when the snow has cleared up) and get the DVD. I have heard that this film was given mixed to negative reviews, however others are surprised that it was, and now consider it to be a brilliant film and definitely rate it positively. This leaves me in two minds. Will the film be similar to the book and manage to change certain bits because it needs to, or will it be totally nothing like the book? I won't know until I have watched it. I also feel sad that they didn't consider making a sequel to the film. Okay, I get that the sequel ("The Valley of Horses") may not be worthy of being adapted into a film (I don't know I haven't read it yet). But maybe it will be picked up soon. Maybe someone might just read the sixth book (when it's released in 2011) and decide to remake the films, if that happens; I'm definitely going to se them all in the cinemas!
Thank you all for reading, and I sure hope I have helped people make up their minds on whether or not they should read this book!
This book is the first of the celebrated Earth's Children series by Jean M Auel. It is set at the dawn of mankind when the world was very different. I got this book from a charity shop for 50p but it is available from Amazon from £3 new and 1p used. This book has also been made into a film.
The book begins with Ayla playing in a river when an earthquake separates her from her family. She becomes more and more lost as she runs into the forest to avoid the tremors until she collapses from exhaustion. Once she recovers she doggedly follows the river trying to find her family. As hunger takes over and she becomes delirious, she unexpectedly ventures into the territory of a group of cave lions. One of the lions attacks her, the wound becomes infected and once again Ayla's life is at risk when she passes out. The clan of the cave bear are looking for a new home at this time as their cave collapsed during the earthquake. The find Ayla lying close to death but the medicine woman Iza takes pity on her and the clan take Ayla with them, not expecting her to live.
Ayla is classed as one of the "others" as she is a more evolved human species that looks more like us. The clan just think she is ugly as she is so different to them. She is terrified of the clan when she wakes up but realises that Iza is trying to help her. As she settles in to clan life, the clan are distrustful of Ayla as she speaks like we do and the clan see superfluous noises as inappropriate. Creb takes a huge interest in her and starts to teach her to speak the language of the clan so he can communicate with her. Each clan member is given an animal totem relating to their character. The clan start to think that Ayla is blessed with a really strong totem spirit when she is the first one to see their new cave.
The story follows Ayla's life with the clan but as she grows so does Broud's hatred of her.
Ayla - The heroine of the story. She is 5 at the beginning of the book and is tall, blond and very intelligent.
Iza - Clan medicine woman whose totem is the saiga antelope. She is pregnant when we first meet her but her husband died during the cave in.
Brun - The Clan leader with a bison totem. He is a strong believer in the spirits and believes that their anger caused the cave in. He worries he will anger them more if he doesn't allow Iza to take Ayla with them. Iza is his sister.
Ebra - She is Brun's mate
Creb (The Mog-ur) - He is the magician of the tribe who is able to cross between the worlds to the spirits and has a cave bear and a roe deer as his totems. He is disabled and is described numerous times as deformed and managed to survive the amputation of his arm. He is the eldest brother of Iza & Brun and would have been the leader if it wasn't for his affliction. He is a kind and gentle man but is revered by all.
Goov - He is just over 11 years of age at the start of the book and has completed his manhood ceremony. He was chosen as The Mog-ur's acolyte.
Broud - Brun and Ebra's nearly 12 year old son. He is to be trained to lead the clan when Brun dies.
Oga - nearly a woman in age. She is sharing Brun and Ebra's fire as her mother died in the cave in and her mother's mate died when he was gored.
Aga - a clan woman whose mate died during the cave in. She has two children, Ona (owl totem) who is a baby and Vorn who is nearly 4 years old.
The other clan members are mentioned but not so much
I really enjoyed this book. It is very well written and the historical information I found to be really good. It describes in depth the way the world used to be with the different forests giving way to huge expanses of grass land interspersed with rocky areas complete with caves. The various animals such as the cave lions which are twice the size of today's lions, 6ft high at the back Aurochs with their curved horns, oversized bison and giant deer are all well described so it is easy to see them in your mind. You immediately warm to Ayla and her plight being so young and separated from her family. She is too young to know what is edible and what is not so is close to starvation when she is found by the clan.
The descriptions of the prehistoric man are fantastic. I could clearly picture their faces and their communications via hand gestures as they had limited speech caused by undeveloped vocal organs. As their brains were made up in a different to ours, prehistoric man was very different. They had great memories but were unable to think ahead to the future. I found reading about the rituals the clan used to ask the spirits for help and to appease them really interesting and found it added a different dimension to the characters. I was intrigued by the social hierarchy of the clan and really felt I understood their ways as the book describes them well. Women were very much the underdogs and the foraging they did while they were travelling was interesting as all the plants are described in detail as well as their uses.
Although there is no way to find out if the book is 100% accurate I believe that Jean M Auel has done a fabulous job recreating prehistoric man. The book is written from the point of view of all the characters and it kept me enthralled all the way through. I have read 4 of the 5 books in the series previously but I am re reading them as I now have the last one. They are as good to read the second time as they are the first and I thoroughly recommend them.
Originally released in 1980 this book has stood the test of time, I discovered it in my teenage years as I started to go through my dad's excessive book collection (I grew up with two very over protective parents and no T.V "as it rots your brain", as much as I resented it back then it clearly did some good as me and my brothers are far from stupid and all enjoy reading). And I found this book incredibly moving (even though it has a rather adult nature with rape, sex, sexual discrimination, child birth and death in it), and have gone on to read it countless times! Its part of a planned series (Earth's Children) spanning over six books, however only the first five are currently available and Amazon is giving it a release date of January 2011 (I know what I'm asking for my next birthday!), also there is talk of her expanding the series but at the moment its speculation.
The series is set roughly 30,000 years ago and there are two different types of people present, both drastically different, Neanderthals and primitive Homo-Sapiens (which on researching for this review I have discovered where called Cro-Magnons). It is based on historic knowledge and discoveries of the time, however of course the author has used a bit of poetic licence to make it into an intriguing and captivating story, one that will transport you back to a time where survival wasn't so guaranteed, a world of sprits and gods (well more accurately goddess).
It starts off with the main character Ayla, aged approximately five, witnessing her camp being destroyed during an earth quake, scared and alone wonders in search of people, someone to take care of her and protect her from this scary world filled with vicious beasts. Starving, dehydrated and with a horrendously infected wound she is found by the Clan of the Cave Bear, who after the medicine woman Iza pleads with the leader, her brother Brun, is allowed to keep her and take her along with them in their search for a new cave (their cave was also destroyed in the same earth quake), after all the chances of her magic working on The Others are slim and it's best if the woman isn't upset as she is crucial in the rituals when they find their new home.
After much searching it is the wilful child Ayla who finds their new cave, when the men are all but ready to turn back, perhaps this strange child is lucky? The child of Brun's hearth Broud isn't pleased with this outlandish new addition to their Cave, her finding the cave and being adopted into the Clan humbles his initiation into man hood, why is this stranger more important than him, after all she's so stupid she can't even talk.
In the new cave Creb, the Mog-ur (holy man) decides to set up hearth with his sister Iza and the strange new addition. However since Iza is pregnant from her previous mate and Crab is disfigured, if Iza produces a boy they will have to move hearth as a boy needs a proper man to teach and train him, to enable him to become a man of the Clan, a hunter and provider. For once the whole clan secretly wishes for a girl as no one wants this outlandish child to join their hearth. Luckily Ayla thrives under her two doting adoptive parents and gradually learns how to be a good clan woman and fit in, there are a few things about her that cause concern however as she matures she learns how to suppress these inclinations until she is at least out of sight of everyone!
No matter what Ayla does Broud views her as usurping his every achievement and his hatred of her grows more with each year, much to the dismay of his father, after all Broud is to become the next leader, how can someone lead that gets so worked up over just a girl. And as a man he can make her life a living hell demanding that she constantly runs errands for her cuffing her at the slightest sign of resistance, making her life a living hell. How bad can he make it? Will he ever give up and just accept her?
I could go on and tell you the whole story happily, and I'm sure even after reading an outline of everything that happens, anyone would still enjoy this book immensely, however that takes the mystery out of the story line, and what a story line it is! I personally find the bits focused on preparing for their ongoing survival, the gathering and manufacturing of what would have been everyday objects incredibly interesting (how ever know this won't be for everyone), but there's enough on hunting tactics and the social aspects to keep most people interested! It's a fascinating look at where we as humans came from, how we evolved and the skills of past evolved into everyday objects we produce today (and let's face it pay someone else to produce for us in the modern age that revolves around money), it leaves me lusting for a simpler time where everyone was reliant on their own survival, laziness and anti social behaviour would not only not be tolerated but would leave you dead!
To be honest the first few times I read this series I didn't realise the Clan and the Others where two different species (being rather young and naive I just thought it was 'white' and 'black' people just with vastly different facial characteristics), but as the years have piled on and knowledge I began to appreciate this exceptional series that bit more, and can understand why it has such a fan base! Not only has it gained a huge fan base but the author has gained the respect of "many renowned scientists, archaeologists and anthropologists around the globe", which leads me to believe that not only is it a thrilling read but also fairly accurate in its depiction into this era. The huge amount of research that has gone into producing this book makes it stand out and probably the main reason it's passed the test of time!
Written by Jean M. Auel, and as I said at the beginning of the review, this book was originally published in 1980 by Hodder and Stoughton, however if you don't fancy a thirty year old copy your more likely to pick it up by Coronet Books. RRP is £8.99 apparently however my copy claims £7.99, can be picked up for as little as £3 on Amazon.
The Clan of The Cave Bear is the first novel in Jean M. Auel's Children of Earth series. It was originally published in 1980. I know I am really going against the grain here but it's just my opinion.
I found this book a little disappointing but as I have read many good reviews about it I have come to the conclusion that it is just not my type of book.
It is set in the time of Neanderthals. Ayla, a girl of the 'others' is orphaned in a tragic earthquake but rescued by Iza, the medicine woman of the Clan of the Cave Bear. She is accepted by most and befriended by the clan's mage. But the chief's heir, Broud, does not share the same opinion. Broud does his best to make Ayla's life a misery but Ayla becomes strong against his constant tormenting when she learns to hunt. The problem is, she lives in an age where it is generally forbidden for a woman just to touch a weapon.
I thought this book had a very slow start as it took a long time for things to settle down and become interesting. When I got into this book I found that there were lots of chapters seemingly about nothing and without any real storyline.
I did not like the main character, Ayla, as her personality varies a lot throughout the book. However I think that the author did a good job of conveying Iza's emotions, especially her frustration at the rest of the clan when they don't approve of her caring for Ayla.
I also like the fact that this book is so well researched; it's very descriptive and as far as I know, historically accurate. It includes some interesting ideas such as a hearth, (each family has a smaller section of the cave) mates are chosen for each other, one animal's 'totem' spirit is selected for every baby and memories can be passed down through generations, providing a massive wealth of healing knowledge.
Overall, I wouldn't really recommend this book as although it does improve towards the end I find the majority of it boring and lacking in real story.
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel was first published in 1980 and is the first novel in her Earth's Children series, with the sixth due out early next year.
The novel is set back in the mists of time, in the period before the last ice age, before the extinction of the Neanderthal people. It tells the story of Ayla, a child who loses her parents in an earthquake and is found by the Neanderthal people of the Clan. She is not Clan - she is what they call the Others, known to us scientifically as Cro-Magnon people (often accepted as early modern humans).
I was lent this novel by a friend, who discovered the series a few years ago and loved it so much she wanted someone else to read it so she could talk about it. I thought the novel sounded interesting, but I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did.
The story of Ayla and the Clan is captivating. There are moments of fear, excitement, anger and happiness, it covers the whole range of emotions. The Clan of the Cave Bear takes place over around 10 years or so, and we see Ayla grow up to a woman from the terrified 5 year old we first meet - in those prehistoric times life spans were short and girls grew up much faster.
The characters are all beautifully written and imagined. The people of the Clan can barely speak and communicate primarily by hand gestures, but Auel does not write them as primitive savages. They have deep thoughts, complex emotions and strong family and Clan ties. They have unbendable traditions and customs. Each type of character is represented in the novel: Ayla is the headstrong heroine; Iza the wise motherly character; Creb, the Mog-ur or Clan magician/spiritual leader, is wise and sees things more clearly than anyone else; Brun is the steady leader, who is always fair and who I always felt was the voice of reason, even if he was punishing someone; Brun's son Broud, the next leader, is the bad guy, the one who made me grind my teeth and feel like shouting at the pages.
This time period is not one I know a great deal about, so I cannot judge the accuracy of the historical setting very well. However, the blurb about the author states that Auel is respected by academics and historians for her painstaking research and accuracy, which is quite an accolade for a writer. That it has taken 30 years for her to reach the sixth novel in the series perhaps indicates the depth of research she does. Certainly the setting is very convincing. Her writing is detailed, her descriptions of tools, clothes and customs are very thorough - I was able to fully visualise the Clan's way of life. The passage depicting the mammoth hunt is so vivid it's like it was written by someone with first hand experience of hunting mammoth. The whole novel made me feel like I had stepped straight into this ancient life.
I found myself reading The Clan of the Bear quicker and quicker as I got into it. I started by reading a few chapters at a time, but soon I couldn't put it down - I was even reading on the bus, not something I do very often.
I really enjoyed this novel. It is a very full account of life in the Clan, and covers their life in great detail. I haven't yet read the second novel in the series, as I've decided I don't want to rush through the books, as I often do with series which I start reading once a few books have been published - I want to savour the Earth's Children series. However, as The Clan of the Cave Bear ends unresolved, not with a cliffhanger but with a knowledge that there's a lot more to come, I will definitely be continuing to read this series.
*** The Earth's Children Series ***
I recently saw the Earth's Children's series of books, by Jean M Auel, in my library and decided to give the first one a try.
There are currently five in the series, published between 1980 and 2002. They are The Clan of the Cave Bear, the Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, and The Shelters of Stone. A sixth book is planned for release in January 2011.
Although I have read a lot of historical fiction, those books covering a period pre 1066 have failed to hold my attention before, so I have never finished one.
This pre-historic fiction was, therefore, a big step backwards in time for me, but as a free loan from my library, I had little to lose, except the amount of time it took me to become disillusioned, I thought.
*** Fact or Fiction ***
Usually, the further back in time an historical fiction author chooses to write about, the more difficult it is to find accurate sources of information from which to work. By definition, writing about pre-historic times, means that there are no written clues.
The setting for the Clan of the Cave Bear is about 35,000 years ago, in an area that we now call south east Europe, during the last Ice Age, when both Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man lived. There is a map near the front of the book.
Although a lot colder than it is now, the lower lying land was free from ice during their spring, summer and autumn.
The author has extensively studied this period, using archaeology, anthropology and evolutionary research.
Her knowledge of the natural history of the time is particularly relevant to the way of life described. I appreciated the detailed descriptions of the landscape, fauna and flora, but I would imagine that some readers, who like shorter reads, might wish that she had condensed this information.
In a time before Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Bovis, home was a cave, with food, clothes and medicines sourced from 100% natural plant and animal ingredients.
The cave had to be close to water and food sources, plus plants and animals used for clothes and medicines. Fit members of the clan would occasionally journey away from the area of the base cave, seasonal weather permitting, to get more variety from nature's produce.
As a region has finite natural resources, groups competing for similar needs must live far enough away from each other to meet them.
As Neanderthals may not have been able to communicate vocally in as wide a range as modern man, the author suggests how they would have made use of visual ways.
The Neanderthal skull also suggests that they would have had better memory skills, but poor logic compared to us.
To make her fascinating story the author has taken the above facts, and with her extensive imagination, woven them into a tale of the survival of an orphan after an earthquake.
*** Overview of Characters and Plot ***
After an earthquake five-year-old Ayla is left to fend for herself, unsuccessfully. A Neanderthal woman convinces her Clan Leader to let her look after her, despite the child's looks suggesting that she comes from The Others tribe. The Leader has absolute power, but the spiritual leader called The Mog-ur influences him, in this sort of matter. The only woman who has status in her own right, is the Medicine Women. This childless woman is the one who found, and wants to keep, the young girl.
I enjoyed discovering how the Neanderthals might have lived, at the same time as Ayla. Readers also see how the diverse main characters develop through her eyes and mind, which is more logical than her adopted Clan.
Although life is relatively simple, it is still complicated by Clan traditions, spiritual beliefs, and conflicts within. The Clan politics reminded me of a sort of Communism. Their religion is based on the power of the spirits of animals in the "next" world. Particularly important to this Clan is the Cave Bear, after which it is named, as well as members' different individual totems.
There are some gory passages, especially during the account of the Clan Gathering, but these are in the minority. There is much more detail about how they use the beneficial parts of the natural world.
Young Ayla knows there are physical differences between her and the adoptive family, but tries not to draw attention to them, to better fit in.
The story shows how these differences, which affect physical and intellectual skills, contribute towards survival. When reading large chunks at a time, I thought that occasionally there was too much repetition in this respect, but as it was only a mild irritant, and the one criticism I have of the whole work, I am not deducting a star from my rating for this.
The book ends with necessary changes in leadership of the Clan, causing Ayla to make an important decision about the future.
While this first book in the series is self contained, and ending in a logical place, I hope to read the next book soon, as I have become fond of Ayla, as well as having developed an interest in the author's interpretation of how early forms of man might have lived.
*** Relevance to Now? ***
I think there are lessons in this novel that are relevant today, and will give examples.
When harvesting plants, Ayla is taught to leave enough behind to produce sufficient for the next season.
The survival of the species needs us to work together, and be willing to adapt.
This begs the question, how long is modern man capable of surviving?
*** Summary & Recommendation ***
The author's portrayal of the people from this pre-historic period has now awakened my interest in our ancient ancestors.
This is not a substitute for an academic book on the subject, but for those who, like me, wouldn't think of starting to learn about this period through pure scientific facts, it is a thought-provoking read.
As scientific theories change over time, it should not affect the appeal of this story, which is a mixture of fact and the author's vivid imaginings.
Some may just enjoy it as a good yarn.
Others may be more interested in the way the author's imagination has interpreted the scientific facts and theories, to show how they may have influenced the lives of early forms of man.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this intriguing, fiction book, based on our limited knowledge of this pre-historic time.
Paperback: 592 pages
Publisher: Coronet; New Ed edition (4 April 2002)
In The Clan of the Cave Bear, we are taken back 35,000 years to a time when two species of man lived on the earth amid icy glaciers and woolly mammoths. When five year old Ayla, a Cro-Magnon, is split from her parents by a shattering earthquake, she is taken in by a clan of Neanderthals. Iza, a medicine woman, and Creb, a powerful holy man, take in the sick and injured child. But her tall and thin body, long blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes, make her stand out from the rest of the clan who are both fearful of her and intimidated by her and the differences she has from them. Yet her intelligence and capability and the fact that she seems to bring luck wherever she goes, makes her admired by everyone except Broud, the future leader of the Clan, who seems to hate the ground she walks on.
Follow the journey of Ayla in her fight for survival in a strange and moving prehistoric time.
~ My opinion ~
Seeing as I was named after the main character in this book, I thought it was probably about time I gave it a read to see what it was all about. My mum and grandad both love the series of Earth's Children books, the first of which is The Clan of the Cave Bear. I have actually tried to read this book twice before when I was a lot younger, but both times I've only got a few pages in before I either got bored or it just wasn't my sort of thing. Now though I generally read anything and so thought I'd give it another go.
When I first began the book, I had the same feelings that I felt when I'd previously started it years ago. Although the very first page started off with some excitement jumping straight into the earthquake, I found it very difficult to get into and I grew a little despondent towards it. This is not a book for those who enjoy a light-hearted and easy to read book. The whole book is very descriptive and Auel goes into great depth about the lives of the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons and the ways in which they lived, describing the land, plant life which is used for medicines, animals which are used for meat and clothing, and how tools are created to assist them. She is an extremely superb writer and has obviously studied her subject in depth, but, for me, these parts seemed to be very dragged out I ended up going off into a trance at quite a few points and not really concentrating on what I was reading. My mum said she also did the same thing or she would just skip past these bits as you don't really miss anything as it's not crucial to the main story. The bulk of the book is made up of descriptive parts and there isn't much dialogue as the Clan don't really communicate too much with other and, when they do, they don't makes sounds but use hand movements and motions to express what they want to say. We do get to find out about all of the characters' thoughts and feelings though as it isn't written from any one person's point of view and jumps from each character's opinions.
Although we get the view points from every character, Ayla is the main character which the story revolves around and we sympathise with her from the very beginning due to the loss of her parents at such a young age. Throughout the book, when she makes mistakes and does things she knows are wrong, we are still on her side because she is such a sweet and friendly girl and she knows no better having been brought up living a completely different live to those in the Clan who are from a different species to her. I found myself feeling all the same emotions that Ayla has for the other characters - love for Iza and Creb who become the only family she's ever known, and hatred for Broud who does nothing but criticise and despise Ayla.
Ayla is only very young throughout a lot of the book and so there isn't many exciting things going on around her. Because of this, and the descriptiveness of the book, I only really found myself getting into it about half way through, which is a quite a way in as the book is almost 600 pages and the type is very small. Once Ayla was older though and more eventful things began to take place in her life, the book got a lot more interesting and when I'd finished it, I actually couldn't wait to start the next one.
Jean M. Auel is an amazing writer and most people who've read this have absolutely loved it. However, it is an acquired sort of read and not for those who like something light and easy. For those who enjoy reading about history, fantasy and adventure, and like an in-depth book that you can really get into, give this a try as it is an amazing read.
I first read this book when I was quite young. Having been always interested in cavemen and humans early years, when i read the synopsis i immediately bought the book and began reading as soon as i got home.
The story starts with a young girl playing with some rocks, when suddenly an earth quake consumes her home and family, leaving her alone and scared.
After much wandering, the girl nearly gives up, and lies on the ground, almost dead. Luckily for her, a group of neanderthals, trying to find a new home after theirs was destroyed in the earth quake, find her. Although unsure at first, Iza manages to persuade her brother, the leader, to let her take her in.
Ayla, the human girl, is raised by the clan of neanderthals, and the story is about her life. The book covers some uncomfortable themes, including rape and infantacide, but it does it well.
There are some parts of the book which drag, for instance, while it shows the author has done a lot of research, she goes into great detail about plants and animals of the time, too much detail. I tended to skip through the paragraphs about the plants!
The ending got to me, and dare i say, it made me cry...a lot.
It's a long story about 'Cro-Magnum' + 'Neolithic' Cave Men, their sophistication and Clan ways.....It evokes a detailed sense of daily activities, their mind-set and relationships....Creb, Iza and Ayla.....A story of difference, the trials of being different, but with the strength to be defiant and sympathetic.....
It's a little neat in places but is always satisfying. The characters are vivid and loved and there are some interesting spiritual ideas....the rituals, the Spirits...natural...the 'memory' of the Clan, as opposed to Ayla the new type of (wo)Man.....destined to rule the Earth.....and what shall we do with our inheritance?
This is a marvellous book that begins the series.
IDEAS: Rituals are a means to connect and socialise, 'hearths' are shared and mates are selected. 'Totem' spirits are announced for babies...There's the idea that our frontal lobes are forward-thinking, whereas the Neolithic had greater memories, without realising the memory enough....
Interesting classic about our imagined beginnings as a species.
Clan of the Cave Bear was a book I read when I was about 17. Its become one of my favourites, one of the books I compulsively "comfort read" when I'm feeling down, and it is an absolutely magical tale, probably aimed at teenagers but suitable for adults as well.
Written by archaeologist Jean M Auel, it is based in the time when Neanderthal men walked among us. A little Cro-Magnon girl loses her family in an earthquake and begins wandering, never stopping to eat and barely to drink. After being attacked by a Cave Lion she is taken in by a group of Neanderthal. They communicate mostly with sign language rather than in speech, and they possess a wonderful shared memory that goes right back to their ancestors. By use of special herbs they can also delve into each others memories. The girl tells them her name but they cannot pronounce it, so she becomes "Ayla" to them, and this is the tale of her growing up in a very different society to hers...women are very subordinate, by a matter of Neanderthal nature, it is not something they can change, but she is different, and as she grows up she tries harder and harder to fit into their way of life, whilst trying to avoid the obsessive and vicious attention of the future leader of the Clan, Broud.
Clan of the Cave Bear is an unbelievably detailed and colourful book, that paints vivid descriptions of life in ancient times, how people back then lived, and the wonderful wildlife that was around back then...giant lions and bears, enormous wild cattle, and mammoth. It has been criticsed for being historically innaccurate, and the idea that the neanderthals could share memories has been rubbished, but this doesnt take anything away from this beautifully written book.
The characters are wonderfully human and rich, the author successfully convinces the author of the humanity of the neanderthal people. Ayla becomes an irritatingly perfect character in the later books, but in this she is a loveable character, surrounded by two adoptive parents, the scary looking but gentle Magician Creb, and the wise medicine woman Iza. You get very involved in the characters and feel deeply for them when things go wrong, as they often do in this book.
What is really remarkable about the book, though, is the vivid description it is written in. The author goes to great lengths to describe what the environment was like back then, the harsh glaciers, and the steppes and forests full of life. She also describes in unbeliavable detail how people lived, slept and ate back in those times, and her description of the foods they prepared are actually mouthwatering at some points.
Clan of the Cave Bear is a long book, and very occasionally it can get tedious, however the story has more than enough action to keep the reader engrossed. The later entries in the series get somewhat ridiclous, what with Ayla being the first person to tame a horse, use a threading needle, use iron pyrite to light fires, basically coming across every discovery the ancients did, but this book is beautiful, magical but also believable. An excellent read for older teens and adults.
"The only good way to make good money from archaeology is to bluff your way to becoming a professor. The only way to make vast amounts of money from it is to write The Clan of the Cave Bear". Paul Bahn in Bluff your way in archaeology, page 14. This is not going to be an easy review to write. Having just today completed "the clan of the cave bear" for the second time (the first being when I was in school), I am in the midst of that feeling you get from just having read something truly special and amazing. How could I possibly do this book justice? I don't know if I will ever be able to manage this, but I am going to attempt to review this book as best I can, simply because I feel more people should know about it, read it and enjoy it. This is the first time I have reviewed a novel as well, so please be gentle with me! - So what is this book about then? What makes this book so special is the fact that it is so utterly different and original. We are all familiar with the historic novel, but how many of you have read a prehistoric one? "The clan of the cave bear" is set in a landscape of some 30,000 years ago, when Europe was in the Palaeolithic era (the old stone age) and an interstadial (warmer bit) during a glaciation of the Ice Age the world was gripped by then. Although this is a warmer time, huge sheets of ice still cover Britain and northern Europe, reaching a far south as the Alps, and leaving the south of the continent in a periglacial climate similar to what you might expect in northern Canada today. The cold is such that animals such as the woolly mammoth roam the plains - although I have to disappoint you if you were hoping for dinosaurs, as these had died out some 65 million years previously! Amongst the cold of southern Europe lives two distinct species of human - Neanderthals and Cro Magnon. The Neanderthal was what you may think of as the caveman; they were robust and m
uscular, with a large, thick skull and a sloping forehead, and were short and solid as many people adapted to cold climates tend to be. These were the older of the two species, having been around since around 230,000 BP (years before present). Cro Magnons, on the other hand, were the new human species that had appeared more recently into this environment. They were an early version of Homo Sapiens and would have looked very different to the Neanderthal, being taller and less muscular with a skull shape like that of ours today. The destiny of this new species, as we now know, was to replace the older one and develop into what we have become today; the main reason for this was because they were more adaptable to the changing environment, and not because the Neanderthal was some shambling half-human idiot as some people like to think. A species does not survive for 200,000 years without a certain measure of intelligence and skill, you know. The story, set against this backdrop, centres around our heroine - Ayla, a girl born to Cro Magnons and orphaned at age 5 by an earthquake. Cold, hungry and frightened, she is found by a travelling group of Neanderthals looking for a new home after their cave was lost to the earthquake, on the verge of death. The girl is rescued, saved and adopted into the lives of the Neanderthal, who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear after the animal that is most highly revered amongst them. This set up gives us a story of the ultimate culture clash - of a child of one species having to learn the language and culture of the other in order to survive. The way of the Clan is highly ordered and superstitious, and it is only through the compassion of their medicine woman (Iza) and holy man (Creb) that she is taken in, despite it being unprecedented for such a move to be made. This book follows Ayla and her new family as she grows up, finishing when she is about age 13 or 14. Over the intervening 9 years, you grow to lo
ve an d identify with Ayla, to admire her bravery and the way she copes and survives despite being so very different from those who surround her. - Who is the book by? The author is a wonderful lady called Jean M Auel (pronounced "owl") from Oregon in the US. She has written a series of books - 5 so far, but with least another one intended - called the Earth's Children series, of which "clan of the cave bear" is the first, published in 1980. The incredible thing about Auel is that she is not just a writer. Having decided to write a series of books set the Palaeolithic, she set about researching the era to such a high standard that she has earned the respect of many scientists, anthropologists and archaeologists around the world. It is this attention to detail that helps to create such a highly believable, realistic and absorbing world. - What did I think? You may have got the impression by now that I like this book, but I also admire it greatly, for it is beautifully written, meticulously researched and completely original. The Earth's Children series are highly popular worldwide, and have spawned numerous fan clubs, websites and even an online role-playing game! I also love this work as an archaeologist, as it brings such a distant part of the past to life, and has been written with such loving care and attention to all that we know (or like to think we know) about the Palaeolithic. The work that has gone into producing these books is evident not only in the gaps between them (books 4 and 5 came out 11 years apart!) but in the way you can read them and feel "yes, this is what it really would have been like then". The other thing I like about "the clan of the cave bear" is that it challenges our preconceptions about Neanderthals. The common image of them is highly unflattering and largely wrong - as I have mentioned, they did survive perfectly well for some 200,
000 years, so they must have been doing something right. However, this book shows them to be intelligent, compassionate, spiritual people, fully capable of communicating with one another, of holding ceremonies and conducting burial rites and of developing effective herbal medicines. And what is more, you can believe it because all of the characters are realistic. I was once told that the true measure of a good book is whether you are left wondering what happened to the characters you have been reading about after you have completed the book. Well, I most certainly did - I cannot wait to pick up book two of the series and find out what happens next in Ayla's eventful life! Recommended to anyone aged 15 and over with a love for an epic story and the concentration to follow all 600 pages of this book. I loved it at age 16, and I love it just as much now - read it for a good story, to learn more about the Palaeolithic or to challenge you preconceptions about the past. But above all, just read it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------ The full series of Earth's Children are: 1) The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980) 2) The Valley of Horses (1982) 3) The Mammoth Hunters (1985) 4) The Plains of Passage (1990) 5) The Shelters of Stone (2001) Useful stuff: http://ecfans.com/ Excellent fansite, with all sorts of articles on the author, the books and recent archaeological work on the Paleolithic http://www.mikedust.com/history/neanderthal.html See what the Neanderthal looked like (as far as we know!) http://www.mikedust.com/history/cromagnon.html Read more about the early homo sapiens of Ayla's species http://www.geocities.com/auelpage/series/bk1clan.htm See a Neanderthal morph into a Cro Magnon Price: The first four books in the series are available in paperback for £7.99. The most rec
ent is still in hardback, and costs £9.99 ? but it is due to come out in paperback next summer.
I seem to have been the only person in my peer group who did not read clan of the cave bear- and indeed the entire Earth’s Children series of book when I was around 15. When visiting the prehistoric caves in the Southern France area last summer, I took an interest in prehistoric things- and discovered a lot more about the early people of earth than I had ever known. I visited a site, near to Lascaux, where the famous cave paintings are, which was a Neanderthal settlement where there had been both Neanderthals and bears buried in the same site. I then heard that the relationship between bears and prehistoric settlements was relatively well documented and that, this series of books had been written about their relationships. So I decided to read the book.. It is a very well researched book telling the tale of a young girl Alya who is of cro magnon (us) heritage, after an earthquake she is separated from her family and is found, near to death by a Neanderthal clan. The clan is searching for a new cave as a home and although they are apprehensive about adopting one of ‘the others’ realise that she is close to death and that she needs care and attention to survive. Soon after this, she recovers and makes the first sighting of the cave that is to be their new home. She is then seen by the clan as lucky- and that coupled with her obvious difference from the clan, gives her a certain leeway in behaviour which is not permissible for the rest of the female clan members, She is primarily cared for by Iza, the medicine women and her brother the Mog-ur, or magician Creb. Basically the story is a bit of a soap opera. It is pretty simplistic and easy to see why it is popular with teenagers. The characterisation is pretty weak, there is Iza, the medicine women, kind and caring, Creb the magician, deformed and initially lonely until Ayla treats him as a substitute father, Brun the clan’s leader, a fair and just man who is limited by the traditions
that he must follow, and Broun his son, an arrogant and unpleasant young man who takes an instant dislike to Alya. at this point I must mention that the family distinction is different to this- it is not known that the male physically fathers the child. Each person has a representative totem and when that totem is defeated the women becomes pregnant. A lot of people will be agog that I can describe the story as a soap opera- any other reviews of this, by paper, electronic copy and word of mouth have said it is a wonderful story, but the majority of readers first visited this book in their teenage years, and like anything else tastes develop as you age. If you read and enjoy a book when you were relatively young you retain a fondness for it when you re-read it, and you don’t see the flaws that someone else, reading it as an adult might see. I did enjoy it though- it is extremely readable and does many very interesting things. Primarily, it ‘humanises’ the Neanderthals. It is well documented that Neanderthals were not intelligent, they did not learn and relied on tried and tested methods- their civilisation did not mature and, when the weather became more brutal, they could not survive. So, they were looked upon as stupid, the expression Neanderthal effectively means that today, unable to learn and develop, with unsophisticated antics. So this race dies out, perhaps they were stupid, but that is nobody’s fault, you develop with what you have, and regardless everybody has feelings and social groupings. However, here is where she delves into the unknown, and that for me is an understandable flaw. The research is meticulous, I believe the book took many years to write, but it is in the end a work of fiction, we do not know for example, as claimed, that these people had the ability to remember things of centuries. I personally suspect not. So even though it is based in historical fact a lot is fiction too, this confused me somewhat. For
example when the great clan gathering is discussed it is made evident that a lot of the ceremonies are under the influences from naturally made hallucinogenic drugs, I have heard this theory before, and it seems that it is likely to be true, but who really knows, this prehistory is so ancient that I cannot get hold of it, so with the exception of what we can see of their tools and remnants e are only really guessing at a civilisation- most of the suppositions seem to me, with my 20th century mind, to be sensible and likely, but who really knows, and the fact that so many other parts of the book are ?real?, we tend to accept the whole story as real. So, as an extreme view, the meticulous detail actually weakens it, we don’t know which bits are true and which are fiction, and our understanding is skewed. Interesting approach to cursing and death- when found to have been doing a purely male activity such as hunting Ayla is sentenced to death curse- but not a permanent death, but one where, if she comes back, she can return to the Clan. Confused? Well I was when I read it, and then the penny dropped as I read further into the scenario. Basically the strength of the Mog-ur is based on the belief of his people. When they are told that she is dead, even though she is standing there, hale and hearty, the cannot believe that she is still alive as that would contradict the word of the spiritual leader. There is interesting discourse amongst the clanspersons- they believed that an evil spirit was standing in front of them- pretending to be Ayla to lull them away from their beliefs. However, as she returns later on, they accept her existence- why because her curse was only temporary. She was dead and can still return. It is also interesting on the role of females and gender in general. Men hunt, Women cook. Women cannot see sacred ceremonies in case they taint them, now the women of the clan accept this role easily, they are female and this what you do.
Alya doesn’t fit this mould, As a Cro Magnon she is more intelligent and inquisitive, pushing the boundaries at each opportunity. I’m never sure if it was because she was more intelligent that she chose not to be cowed or if she had had more positive female role models in her years before entering the clan. Alas her growth in stature and obviously ability to do things that before only men had- she was allowed to be the ‘woman who hunts’, did not seem to have any positive affect on the roles of the women around her, they still continued on in the same path, perhaps signifying the inherent differences between the two species. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all, but take it for what it is, a fable with some very strong background information. The real question is- would I read the others, probably yes, but only if they explore different areas of prehistory.
On writing this novel, Jean M. Auel worked over a period of three years, working fourteen to sixteen hours a day, seven days a week to bring a story of a prehistoric nature to life. Her descriptive writing takes the reader into unknown territory making for a brilliant read! 'The Clan of The Cave Bear' is an amazing magical best seller. I read it when I was thirteen and couldn't stop! When I was younger I remembered watching 'The Clan of The Cavebear' on video. I could only remember it vaguely and when I was a bit older I watched it and was intrigued as well as moved! What a great film! Anyhow this review is not about the film although I do suggest you go and buy it! It just so happened that my dad had this book on the shelf and so I decided to indulge myself in it. The story is set 35,000 years ago, when the earth was covered in great ice glaciers and moving land masses. The story is quite moving and focuses on the relationship between Ayla and the Neanderthal clan. There are two species of man. The Neanderthals and the Cromagnons both in the battle for survival. Ayla is a Cromagnon girl and is the sole survivor of a terrible earthquake where she is separated from her family. Fortunately for her she is taken in by the clan of the Neanderthals. Ayla is lovingly cared for by Iza, the Clan's old medicine woman and Creb who is the Clan's holyman. These two people help build Ayla's life in bringing her up the Neanderthal way and she inspires them in return, with her beliefs and her knowledge. Her appearance and advanced intelligence separate her from the Clan. Also, her strong will power to disobey orders to do what she feels is right are shown strongly in this beautiful novel. Different characters in the novel will move you. The relationship between Ayla and Creb is fantastic. Also the tension between her and future clan leader Broud will grip you even further as she struggles to keep her independ
ence within the Clan. Broud tries to belittle her as much as possible. I shan't tell you what else happens but this is a remarkable story and tells of her difficulties within the clan. The book has captivated me from the start and all the way through to the end. Even though the story is fictional Jean M. Auel has studied this topic very well. We hear of a variety of herbs used and special rituals performed. She uses her knowledge and understanding of days dating back 35,000 years ago to capture the readers' mind in an enchanting mythical journey. This book is the first volume in the magnificent saga of Earth's Children. The books which I have read and which follow are:- The Valley of Horses The Mammoth Hunters The Plains of Passage I hear that there is a following sequel which comes out at around May 2002 and is called 'Shelters of Stone.' As soon as it comes out I'll be sure to buy it. I'm sure it will be an interesting read as have all Auel's books have been. Overall Conclusion:- This novel is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it to those who have seen the film as it will give them a deeper insight into the story. I would also recommend this book to anyone who wants to go on a fantastic journey through the prehistorically ages. Not only do we gain some of the historical background we also travel on a journey with Ayla and feel how she feels and are known to her emotional self. This book is fantastic and if you haven't read it or are thinking of buying it, please do as it will make you feel alive with wonder! Not to be missed! Thankyou for reading, Enjoy! Jess
Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel Wow what an awesome read. I couldn't put the damn thing down, I was late for work, I forgot to pick the kids up from school and I cremated more than one meal (probably a salad) in the three days it took me to read it. Auel's book was gripping from the first page, I absorbed myself totally in Ayla's story which begins with her losing her family in an earth quake. Set in times when mammoths roamed the stark landscape, Ayla's tale progresses through her integration and partial acceptance into another tribe, much less evolved than her own. More twists and turns in this book than you can swing a hyena hide at, you gotta read this book! The following books in the Earth Children Series follow Ayla on her adventures. And NEWSFLASH! Word has it (according to the official site) that Jean Auel is bringing out the sixth book in the series in May 2002. I can't wait. It's a rare book that leaves me feeling lonely when I've finished it.