Monday, July 5, 2010

Anthropological fiction of the early Pleistocene

Clan of the Cave Bear
Jean M. Auel

An interesting anthropological fiction that tells the story of the end of a line of Australopithecines (a.k.a. Lucy-like) and the rise to dominance of Homonids (a.k.a. us!)

An earthquake orphans Ayla, a 5 year old hominid, and she wanders aimlessly for days before being found by Iza, the powerful medine-woman of a more ape-like race Australopithecines. Iza fights to save Ayla's life and the clan spiritual Mo-gur and leader reluctantly allow for the small girl to live with them despite her ugly, deformed looks. As the girl grows into a tall, lithe, blond woman with relatively little body hair and physical strength but a remarkable ability to make logical conclusions, she becomes a member of the family of Iza and The Mo-gur. However, not everyone is happy with her presence and some are determined to have her cast from the clan.

I greatly enjoyed the use of man's evolution as the premise for a story. I thought the situations, personal qualities, and rituals of both the Clan and Ayla created an interesting juxtaposition between the two evolving cultures and why one race was destined to become extinct. The author vividly described a world that seemed much more primitive that ours by describing long extinct creatures of the early Pleistocene while weaving in descriptions of extant plants and animals that have survived the last 2.5 million years. However, some of the descriptions of the Clan rituals and surrounding environment were a little long and I found myself skimming over lists of fish that were caught, plants that were collected, etc.

While I enjoyed this book, I don't believe I will be finishing the series and am perfectly content with the complete story I just read. If you are at all interested in anthropology, I recommend The Clan of the Cave Bear.

Side Note: This book was recommended to me through the Romance Recommendation Challenge associated with Book Tag Bingo. The romance tag is quite large within the lists of tags but I completely disagree with that classification! There was absolutely ZERO romance in this novel even though there was plenty of familial love and description of relationships among Clan members.

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