Series: Earth's Children #1
Published by Bantam on June 25, 2002
Source: Library, Audible
Narrator: Sandra Burr
Length: 19 hours, 36 minutes
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This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel's magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.
A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly--she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza's way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel is incredible.
Ayla is about 5 years old when a massive earthquake leaves her motherless and alone. She is found by a group of Neanderthals and adopted into their Clan. As a child born to the Others (a Cro Magnon group living in another area), Ayla’s differences are always apparent to everyone else, but she grows to be a respected and integral part of the Clan.
What. A. Character.
Ayla’s story isn’t without struggle and difficulty, but it also contains strength and love and a ferocity that I absolutely adore. She’s way up there in my new favorite characters list and I’m excited to watch her continue to grow in the subsequent installments in this series. From start to finish in this installment, Ayla ages only a few years, but during the course of that time, she becomes a woman in the eyes of the Clan. This means that she undergoes many things, changes, and events that we do much later in our lives in this day and age. I LOVE her.
And honestly, I can’t remember ever reading anything from this prehistoric time period before so I was not sure what to expect when I began this book. With the earthquake event happening in the opening chapter, I was immediately hooked. The story never let up, even with the few instances of repetition scattered throughout. I was never bored. The descriptions of the culture and customs of these people and their ways of life fascinated me. It felt obvious to me that the author took great pains to research details and present them as accurately as possible. (After finishing the book, I sought out interviews with Mrs. Auel and found where she talked about her research-very cool.)
The part that I easily loved most about this story was its characterization. I was able to form easy connections with them even though there was ~30,000 years between their time and mine. Sure, they are wildly different from me in terms of customs, religion, ways of life, etc. – but these characters have emotions and behaviors that are very much on par with us today. This is something that I’ve never thought about before…until now, when I’ve actually taken the time to think about this time period, these people, and the challenges that they faced when compared with the comforts of living in this period of history. I had no trouble at all visualizing this book in my head as I read and found myself wanting to read it anytime that I couldn’t be.
This book was a complete joy to read (and listen to, as I added the audiobook) and I know that I’ll be rereading it in the future.
The audiobook format of The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel is published by Brilliance Audio and is 19 hours, 36 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Sandra Burr who was new to me. She was a fine narrator and I became very used to her reading for Ayla and the other characters. Not my very favorite, but certainly enjoyable. I’ll read/listen again in the future, for sure.