Monday, September 17, 2012

My own guilty pleasure . . . reading and rereading Jean Auel's books



I first discovered Clan of the Cave Bear as a young adult and I have no idea how many times I've read it since.  It is the story of a Ayla, a Cro-Magnon girl, orphaned during an earthquake and taken in by a Neandrathal clan.  The first book is about her trials as an outsider trying to fit into her adopted clan and despite all she ends up alone cast out by her adopted clan.

In The Valley of the Horses, Ayla begins the search for her own people, Cro-Magnons.  She learns to hunt and to survive.  She finds a safe haven in a cave and creates her unusual family -- an orphaned foal and an injured lion.  But she misses people.  And then one day she finds two Cro-Magnon men -- brothers -- who are badly injured by her lion.  She is able to heal one of the brothers.  He teaches her to speak and about love.

The Mammoth Hunters is the story of Ayla and Jondalar's journey to the home of the Mammoth Hunters -- also Cro-Magnon.  Ayla must learn new customs and language but she develops friendships with other women for the first time.  There is jealousy and misunderstanding between the couple but true love prevails as they say and at the end of the book.  They must decide whether to stay with the Mammoth Hunters or continue their journey to return to Jondalar's people.

In The Plains of Passage Ayla and Jondalar faces many dangers as they cross the inhospitable grasslands and glaciers.  They manage to survive all their trials but dreams of Creb (the Neandrathal  magic man) and a mysterious overhanging rock continue to trouble Ayla.  Will this be her safe haven or another trial to be faced?

Ayla and Jondalar finally arrive safely at his home among the Zelandonii in The Shelters of Stone. Jondalar's family accept Ayla despite her strange accent and animal friends but some do not.  Ayla faces more trials and dangers to gain acceptance amongst her own, long-sought people.

Ayla, Jondalar and their daughter Jonayla continue to live among the Zelandonii in The Land of Painted Caves.  Ayla is pulled in many directions between being a good wife and a good mother and becoming a medicine woman.

There was a movie made from the first book but it was pretty forgettable.