Book Club: Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel.
March 24, 2012
Still a little behind on the book club reviews… and trying to catch up. Not sure where my time is going. Doesn’t the saying go….”You’ll have so much time on your hands” and “You won’t know yourself” when your children are all at school? Well, the answer to the first is a resounding NO and yep…still me last time I looked!.
The Clan of the Cave Bear was a book I was not keen to read when it was selected by one of our book club members. I was even less encouraged when I bought my second hand copy only to find it had a very ‘Mills and Boone-esque’ cover. This one I would not be reading in public if I wished to maintain any literary respect!
I was somewhat, surprisingly, turned around. I say somewhat as it wasn’t one of the best books I have read, but it was a compelling and interesting read. I learnt things I didn’t know before about surviving a prehistoric lifestyle. I enjoyed the somewhat predictable narrative, the writing style and characters kept me coming back for the 500+ pages.
The novel begins with a girl, Ayla begin found by a tribe of people different to her own. This tribe are, throughout the novel, pitched as a less developed clan of cave people to the one she is originally from…. although they are not aware of this and continue on there merry way believing and acting in the way they have been taught. These practises include a deep spiritual leadership and hierarchy , a strong following of male headship and a very functional use of women.
You may be guessing by now what the introduction of a more developed ‘newer’ woman means. Yes, she upsets their beliefs at every level…. although the book ends with very little changing in the clan.
It smacks of a feminist work, which for us living in the wake of activist* type feminism, it all seems a little surreal. We had to stop ourselves a number of times during the discussion of this book to remind ourselves that there was once a world where women were ‘less than’…. and that the whole notion wasn’t a strange one to write a novel around at the time of it’s penning in the early 80’s.
We did have some great discussion about belief and faith in the spiritual world, generational learning (and unlearning… it should be a word) and lots of thankfulness for the time we live in.
Our next book…. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.
* As opposed to the more refining type feminism we see more of today.