101. ‘Neanderthal’. It’s rubbish. Find ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ instead.

Regarding the book pictured, seriously, don’t bother – I’m donating this back to the charity shop I bought it from in the hope someone else looking for a read will give them another two dollars for it!

BUT. I write to tell you WHY I bought it. Many moons ago when I was in training for a job I didn’t really want with an insurance company, there was one other lady in my group of around my age who also hastily sloped off at breaks and lunch to read outside on the river bank with a cheeky ciggie as I did. Naturally we hit it off after a short period of both conservatively giving one another space to read/escape; and a series that she recommended, ( ‘I can’t believe you’ve never read it!’) to me was ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ by Jean M. Auel whose heroine is an uncommonly gifted Stone Age Brigitte Bardot named Ayla.

Ingrid, who I am proud to have called my friend, lost her life some years ago after suffering a stroke. I’m older now than she was when she died, which gives me pause for thought. She is remembered with great fondness by me every time I ask myself the question, ‘What would Ayla do?’, our work joke, which has since become somewhat of a catchphrase with my daughters and I whenever we are faced with an apparently insurmountable task. I mean, Ayla tames a wolf and a cave lion, works out birth control, survives an Ice Age winter alone in a cave, and designs and develops the sewing needle amongst her many other talents… (But seriously, just imagine, all those lightbulb moments, they happened to someone in our ancestral past).

The writing style of Jean M. Auel may be dated but by golly so is her subject matter; set in Neolithic times and addressing the conflict which must, on every level of logic, have occurred between Homo Sapiens -us – and the Neanderthals.

Hence the title of this book caught my attention. But don’t bother. Instead, try at least the first book in Auel’s ‘Earth Children’ series, readily available online in both e-book and printed formats and see how you go – despite some reservations about the last couple of volumes I devoured the entire series. My dear friend Ingrid gave me the first book and I’ll be forever grateful. The empowerment of women is paramount throughout. But the frequent sex scenes were… laboured! I skipped most of them to be honest! Have you read it? What did you think?

Becky X