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Shvoong Home>Books>The Clan of The Cave Bear Review

The Clan of The Cave Bear

Book Review   by:Siobhan Rose     Original Author: Jean M Auel
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Set in the last ice age, this is a story of survival of individuals and is it also the story of natural selection? Ayla, a Cro-Magnon is orphaned at a young age by a natural disaster. Alone and defenceless, she wanders and instinctively hugs the side of the river, by whose side the family she cannot remember once lived. Lacking the basic knowledge to feed herself, - injured and exhausted she finally falls down. The circling vultures attract the attention of Iza, - Medicine Woman. The rest of the Neanderthal clan of which Iza is a member put her desire to help the strange toddler down to her peculiarities, displayed since a child, of rescuing injured animals. They grudgingly and gradually accept the outsider. Thus begins the story of a clash of two cultures, one a rule based culture highly dependent on traditions, shared history and knowledge, - the other a more analytical and imaginative based culture. Ayla’s struggle for acceptance and survival leads to a harsh life with intermittent and severe emotional anguish punctuated with moments of joy. Hunting and gathering form the pattern by which the clan lives. With little or no knowledge of how to measure the passage of time the clan is dependent on the magician to mark the key events of their year. We learn of the ancient traditions, the spirit world, the drugs used to achieve a heightened sense of awareness; is that a telepathic sharing of knowledge or is it a conversation with the spirit world? One man allows a perceived childhood grievance to pervade his reasoning and with his jealousy and bruised ego sets off down his chosen path; taking the entire clan with him.
We are left wondering if he will expedite the demise and destruction of his people, sentencing their traditions and sharing culture into oblivion. Too late do his fellows see him for who he really is; disquiet and insecurity descend upon the clan in a most unwelcome and alarming fashion. Courage, intelligence and sheer determination are the key supports for Ayla as the years pass. Her internal battle to conform to a group so fundamentally different is invisible to most; the loss of loved ones and changes in the structure of the clan finally brings a cruel reckoning day. To find out what ultimately happens you must read "The Valley of Horses".
Published: February 15, 2006   
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