Saturday 30 May 2020

Hist Fic Revisited ~ The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

It is the last Saturday of the month so time for Hist Fic Revisited

Let's do a bit of time travelling..

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Bantam 2016

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. 

What did I think about it..

Over this lock down period I have been listening to more audio books and The Clan of the Cave Bear, expertly narrated by Rowena Cooper, has been a perfect distraction. It is rather a long listen, over 20 hours but, once the story gets going, I found that I was easily transported back to living amongst the Cave Bear people, over 35,000 years ago.

Ayla is an orphan child when she is found, and rescued, by a group of individuals who belong to the Clan of the Cave Bear. This primitive Neanderthal tribe take Ayla into their group but they realise that she is not one of them. With her blue eyes and blonde hair Ayla is one of the Others, a disparate group of people who are infiltrating the ancient lands. However, with no-one to claim her, Ayla is adopted into the clan and cared for by Iza, the medicine woman, and Cleb, the Mog-ur, who, over time, come to love this unusual child. Over the passage of time, Ayla grows to young womanhood as part of the Clan of the Cave Bear, but her journey  into adulthood is not without problems, as she is not universally welcomed by the rest of the clan.

The author brings this ancient world alive, and the myths and legends of the clan, and its people are vividly recreated. In many ways it's rather a slow story with not much happening other than descriptions of the clan as they search for their forever home, and it takes a while to get to know all the individual characters and to appreciate their faults and foibles. I grew to love Ayla, whose affection for her adopted family, particularly Iza and Cleb, is fascinating, however, there were others amongst the clan who become more and more unlikable as the story progresses. 

Written over 40 years ago, The Clan of the Cave Bear is far from perfect, it is rather over long in places and a bit repetitive, however, it is still an interesting story and has definitely been well worth a revisit 😊

The Clan of the Cave Bear is just the beginning of The Earth Children series 

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Jean M. Auel is an American author best known for her Earth's Children books, a series of historical fiction novels set in prehistoric Europe that explores interactions of Cro-Magnon people with Neanderthals. As of 2010 her books have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide, in many translations.

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