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Book review

One of the reasons I've been so quiet lately, apart from being in a black funk over my current no-job situation, is that I have been struggling to finish with the last instalment in Jean Auel's Earth's Children-series, which I started to read 30 years ago. It tells the story of an epic journey (in more ways than one) undertaken by a European Early Modern Human woman, raised by Neanderthals, who 30,000 years ago travels from the Russian steppes to the French southwest, taming animals and inventing things along the way. I loved the first novel, called The Clan of the Cave Bear, and quite enjoyed the next three, but this last one, the final part of the series published 9 years after the fifth, has proved a sore disappointment. It's entitled The Land of Painted Caves, and it certainly holds a lot of descriptions of painted caves within its pages. For roughly 2/3rds of the book, Ayla, the heroine, when she's not making tea, or introducing herself and her tame wolf to new characters who appear and disappear from the narrative with bewildering speed, is looking at cave paintings as part of her training to become her adopted people's holy woman. Repetitive and boring...and so is the last part, in which the plot of one of the earlier books in the series is rehashed: Ayla and her mate Jondalar fail to communicate, but in the end he's the only one who can reach her when she lies in a drug-induced coma and brings her back to the world of the living by the power of his tearful pleading. I wonder how this book ever got past an editor. It's as if the author just couldn't be bothered to bring any kind of structure to the mountain of research that went into the background of it, let alone shape any kind of story to play out in the foreground from it. Utterly disappointing; a sad and unworthy ending to an otherwise mainly enjoyable series.

And now I've set myself the challenge of reading another series of novels this year, ages after everyone else has already done so: I'll be starting on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in a day or two. First though, Jane Austen and Northanger Abbey, which has been sitting on my nightstand for far too long.



( 11 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
Jan. 25th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy the Harry Potter books!

I read Clan of the Cave Bear and most of Valley of the Horses years ago, but they kind of freaked me out. (I was a very innocent 15 at the time, and the sex scenes were a bit much for me.)

*big hugs* I really hope you have some luck on the job front soon.
Jan. 25th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
Based on the two movies I have seen so far, I expect to like the HP books -- they seem like enormous fun!

There was altogether too much sex in Earth's Children -- it was a relief to find that it was largely absent from this last book, if truth be told ;-).
Jan. 25th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
The HP books are enormous fun! Even my husband, who rarely reads, is very much enjoying them.
Jan. 25th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
Your icon's made of win!
Jan. 25th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
I read through to The Mammoth Hunters when that came out. I loved those books back in the day! I tried to go back through them about a year ago and couldn't even finish the first. She is fond of the long-winded descriptions. :)

You're not alone in the HP camp. I didn't start reading them until last year. I still haven't finished...I keep getting stuck on GOF. It's not that it's 'bad', I just lose interest about halfway in. I will finish them eventually. :)
Jan. 26th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
She is fond of the long-winded descriptions. :)

She most certainly is, and seems to have become increasingly so as the series progressed, until by the end of it, there's nothing but descriptions, of plants and rocks. Also, there's a fascination with breastfeeding, with mention of a baby nursing, or needing to be nursed, on almost every page.

I don't think I'll ever read this series, now that it's finally complete, again. Not even Clan of the Cave Bear, which in retrospect was the best of the bunch.
Jan. 26th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
Harry Potter is such an easy read - especially the first two novels. I don't know anyone who hasn't enjoyed the story though I do feel JKR could have done with a more forceful editing on the final two books.

I haven't read the JMA series, but now I'm glad because there's nothing worse than a series that drags on and finishes with a whimper, a prime example of this is the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I stopped reading that when the writer lost his way at about book 6.

Sorry about the job sitch - surely the new year will bring a surge of job opportunities. Soon. :)
Jan. 26th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
there's nothing worse than a series that drags on and finishes with a whimper

Never a truer word...

I got turned down for another job again today, on the grounds that my cv, which I've tweaked and tweaked to make it less impressive, was still 'too impressive'. I've tried to tell them that it's not just what I've done in the past, but how I can bring to bear the skills I learnt then in the position I'm being interviewed for now and how that can work to their advantage that matters, but to no avail.

If only I'd heeded my Dad's advice, and gone on to study law. I would have been set up for life!
Jan. 26th, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
I read the first four of the Auel books ages ago, have no idea how I'd like them now. I might have the fifth book somewhere, but I know I haven't read it.

I've read 3 of the Harry Potters, plus the beginning of the fourth. I don't know, the first two were ace flu reading, but then the quality took a downturn IMO. IIRC, she didn't feel the need for editors after a while. Maybe I'll make another stab at it...

Oh, I adore Northanger Abbey. Have you read it or not? It's hilarious even if I haven't read the Gothic novels Austen parodies.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Jan. 27th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
I have just finished Northanger Abbey, actually. It was the only novel of Jane Austen's that I hadn't read yet, and now I'm kind of sad that there aren't any more.
Jan. 27th, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
Ah. Yes. That. Though she did write 10 or so chapters of a novel called Sanditon, which is very enjoyable. Her health declined too fast for her to finish it, but it was finished in the mid-1970s, and the completion is actually quite well done if perhaps a bit... collage-y of features from various characters from the other books, IIRC. And then she wrote a short epistolary novel called Lady Susan, but I haven't read it.
( 11 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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