It’ll be Auel right by the last book….

Families are funny things, book-lovers. Sometimes I wonder how I am related to most of mine. My sister, for example; she looks just like I do, but taller, thinner and blonder and with a smaller nose, and yet we could not be more disparate in our book choices. She genuinely likes Twilight, for example, and thinks Stieg Larsson, rather than being forced to a Reclaim the Night rally hosted by Greer and the London Feminist Network, then given the opportunity to re-write his entire books from an actual feminist perspective as opposed to a “feminist” one, should be given some sort of award for services to literature. Then again, when I was 21 I was obsessed with Donna Tartt…oh wait, that’s because she’s GOOD.And my Father. Doesn’t. Read.

That’s a bit of a lie, because he DOES. He likes books about things that he is interested in, like art and Bob Dylan and the occasional political biography, but he doesn’t read read. Not like I do. My Father is, however, responsible for me reading as he was the one who read to me as a child. We did the Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland. We must have done more but they are the ones I remember very clearly. We also struggled through LOTR 1 but must have quit fairly early as he hated it. As did I, and I haven’t gone back to them since, which just shows you.

No it was my Mother who had the same book-lust as me and she passed a couple of years ago. She introduced me to literally every major book series of my teenage years; Bernard Cornwell, Harry Potter, Jilly Cooper (which introduced me to a heck of other things as well…). The thing I remember her the most for though, is my introduction to Jean M Auel. Auel writes a series known as The Earth’s Children books, but name me another reader who doesn’t know them as ‘the clan of the cave bear books’ and I will introduce you to a Lie. Because they are Clan of the Cave Bear, the title of the first book, even if the Clan themselves only make an appearance in that one (which is a dreadful shame).

The series is set a the Dawn of Mankind-a horrible phrase but as appropriate as any- and features a dazzlingly beautiful, talented and girted homo sapien girl called Ayla. Ayla starts life as an orphan, whose family have been killed in an Earthquake and who has been mauled by a cave lion- not a great prospect for survival 10000 BC. Lucky for her, she is found by a Clan of Neanderthals whose homes have been destroyed by the same Earthquake that killed her family. How fortuitous. She is adopted by the Clan, even though she is so clearly different from them, and grows up a semi-outsider, unable to conform to the strict authoritarian lifestyle based on traditions that, for some reason, the Clan remember with there Massive Brains. Oh, and they can’t talk, so she has to learn to communicate with sign language.

I’m not going to tell you what happens because it is a massive spoiler to go any further than I’ve already done, but I think its fair to say that, during the course of her journey in the novels (of which there are, so far, 5, with another due next January, and of which I would seriously only bother with the first three) Ayla discovers matches, horse riding, sewing, shooting with bows, dogs as pets, hangover cures, the 69, and hair conditioner.

The books are incredibly written, with such minute attention to detail you honestly think Auel has invented a time machine and gone back into the past and lived in hiding for a few years in a cave made entirely of skins. Mammoth skins to be exact, with twine made from sinews. Ayla is a medicine woman, and I recommend this year, instead of Ray Mears survival guide, you get yourself a copy of Book 2 (Valley of the Horses) , and it is a far better desk reference to how to use nature to stay alive than anything that Land Rover driving cheat could do.

The books are also good fun to read. You really do root for Ayla throughout, even though in real life you’d happily punch her in the face for being such a know-it-all perfect swotty no mates twit. Only she wouldn’t be, because she is staggeringly beautiful, and wonderful, and magnificent, you kind of wish she had a fault. Oh yes, she can’t sing! Ha ha ha.

The thing that ruins them, however, is the sex. From the third chapter of book 2 you might as well be reading caveporn. Not that its badly written caveporn, but even still, it doesn’t need it, it’s ridiculous and silly, although the idea of women being worshipped as almost holy beings, and orgasms being the beallandendall of everything is quite a fun concept, it would be better to imagine Ayla as goddess if she wasn’t so fucking STAGGERINGLY BEAUTIFUL!

I loved them, N loved them and F loved them, though, so recommended. The first three books are stunning, the last two are dross and we do not have the highest of hopes for the 6th, but you never know.

Happy reading!

Bookelf.

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Posted on December 19, 2009, in All Posts, Book Elf, Classics and Historical, LBC Book Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Just wanna say, I wrote this blog before I found out that the Millennium Trilogy's first book was originally called “Men Who Hate Women”, and therefore I re-thought my ideas as to the feminism aspect. I've written a blog about them somewhere on here (poss May 2010 ish?) in more details.
    BookElf x

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