Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Valley of Horses

I started the sequel to The Clan of the Cave Bear as soon as I finished the first book.  Jean Auel is very imaginative and I am enjoying continuing to read the saga of Ayla as she leaves the Clan and moves out into the world on her own.   I am reading this book via audible.

Here is the summary on Wikipedia:
The book starts off from the events at the end of The Clan of the Cave Bear detailing the life of a young Cro-Magnon woman named Ayla who has just been exiled from the Clan, the band of Neanderthals who had raised her from early childhood. Ayla now searches for her own people, whom the Clan refer to as "the Others".
In a parallel narrative, Jondalar, a young Cro-Magnon man of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii, accompanies his impetuous younger half-brother Thonolan on a traditional rite of passage called the Great Journey. In these episodes, we learn of the Cro-Magnon's paleolithic nature religion, centered on the worship of the Great Mother of All, and follow their adventures and sexual exploits. It is also through these episodes that the animosity, verging on hatred, between the Others and the Clan (whom they refer to derogatorily as "flatheads") is introduced. The Others have repeatedly persecuted the Clan, taking land and resources, but justify it by classing them as animals. However, over the course of his adventures, Jondalar starts to question this prejudice, noting that no other animals have fire, tools or communicate intelligently, nor are they actively hated or attacked-as-sport by his people.
Ayla, alone and ritually ostracized from the only people she has ever known, travels steadily from the Beran Sea peninsular home of her former tribe north for around half a year until finding the book's titular valley sunk deep into the windy landscape of the periglacial loess steppes in Ukraine. Worried that she might never find the Others, she begins to prepare for winter. Finding a suitable cave and many conveniences in the valley, she establishes a comfortable but lonely life there.
Her desire for companionship leads her to tame a filly whose mother she had killed, naming her Whinney. She also takes in and treats an injured cave lion cub, which she names Baby.
In the course of their journey, Jondalar and Thonolan have met women and hope to settle with them, but Thonolan's mate dies in childbirth and Jondalar feels he is not really in love with his woman friend. They continue on their journey and meet up with the Mamutoi people, planning to join them later in the year.
Jondalar and Ayla meet when Thonolan is killed by a cave lion—Baby, now fully grown and with a mate of his own. Ayla heals Jondalar's injuries and they begin to learn to communicate and get to know each other. Jondalar overcomes his inbred prejudice against the Clan and Ayla learns that all her peculiarities which confused and angered the Clan are actually fully accepted and encouraged by the Others.
The two fall in love as the book nears its end, and decide to leave the Valley of Horses and explore regions around the valley Ayla has not yet investigated.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Clan of the Cave Bear

I finished the Introvert Advantage last night and decided to start this book this morning.  The book is of particular interest to me as my mtDNA indicates that I connect to a woman who lived during the last ice age in middle France among the people who painted on the cave walls.  My mtDNA is the most common among human beings of European/British descent.  (For those who are not DNA enthusisasts, the mtDNA is passed from a mother to ALL of her children regardless of sex.  The children of your brother will NOT have mtDNA that matches your mother's as they will receive the same as their own mother. )  It makes a lot of sense that this would be my mtDNA as my mother's mother's people are from Alsace Lorraine.

Much to my disappointment the men in the book do NOT draw on the walls.  And I am not certain exactly where the Clan lives.  Although the Wikipedia summary says that Ayla travels from the Beran Sea Peninsula.  Here is a link to a map that a man has made showing the area in which the Clan lived:

I am reading the book via

Here is the Publisher's summary:

A remarkable epic of one woman's odyssey - filled with mystery and magic.
Here is the saga of a people who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear; how they lived; the animals they hunted; the great totems they revered. But mostly it is the story of Ayla, the girl they found and raised, who was not like them.
To the Clan, her fair looks make her different - ugly. And she has odd ways: she laughs, she cries, she has the ability to speak. But even more, she struggles to be true to herself and, with her advanced intelligence, is curious about the world around her.
Although Ayla is clearly a member of the Others, she is nurtured by her adoptive parents, befriended by members of the Clan, and gradually accepted into the family circle. But there are those who would cast her out for her strange, threatening ways.
So the conflict between the ancient Clan, bound by heredity to its traditions, and the girl in its midst, of a newer breed destined to alter the face of earth, could never be resolved. And it is this same struggle that leads Ayla to venture where no Clan woman has ever dared. Driven by destiny and a will to survive, Ayla breaks the forbidden taboo. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016


I started this book tonight again.  I had read the first page or two a week or so ago....and thought that perhaps I wouldn't read it.  But I read more pages tonight while I ate my dinner and I am HOOKED!  Oh, my gosh.

Ok....back to the beginning.  I have wanted to attend the book group that meets at the Gallaher library with my buddy, Mitzi.  I never seem to be able to go when she is attending.  Or I haven't read the book.  Or I forget.  But this is the book for this month and Geraldine Brooks is one of my favorite authors.  I really want to go this month.  I already own the book.  It is just a matter of reading it in a timely manner.

So I pulled it out tonight.  I am only on page 40.  But I can almost not breathe at the end of the last chapter when they whip the black woman named Grace for having encouraged the cook's daughter, Prudence to learn to read.  Mr. March had instructed her at night with Grace's encouragement  And the man who has appeared to have been such a gentleman requires Mr. March to watch.  It is too terrible.  And then the women gather at the end of the beating that is too hard to bear to take care of the the whipped woman.  How can people have lived like that and not have POISONED that man.....have not have stuck a knife in his heart?

Here is the review on the Goodreads site:

Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction. From the author of the acclaimed YEAR OF WONDERS, an historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe, on the front lines of the American Civil War. Acclaimed author Geraldine Brooks gives us the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women - and conjures a world of brutality, stubborn courage and transcendent love. An idealistic abolitionist, March has gone as chaplain to serve the Union cause. But the war tests his faith not only in the Union - which is also capable of barbarism and racism - but in himself. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness, March must reassemble and reconnect with his family, who have no idea of what he has endured. A love story set in a time of catastrophe, March explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief.

Mr. March meets Grace again during the Civil War and the other information that she reveals to him also takes one breath.