Monday, March 27, 2017

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The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel, a book review

The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel was a bit of a disappointment. One reason is based solely on the book and storytelling. The other is completely personal and probably has more to do with my own life than the book itself.

My first experience with Earth's Children was Valley of the Horses. I saw Clan of the Cave Bear as a movie and thought it was interesting. I imagine that if I'd read the book upon which the movie was based, I would have preferred the book. Now, though, I might not.

The reason I felt disappointed that pertains solely to the book itself is the redundancies. I realize, upon reflection, that this is part of the author's style. I'm not sure if it's purposeful or a result of the author forgetting what she'd previously written and therefore reminding herself about it as she's writing. That's what it seems like is happening. Another point of disappointment is the contradiction within the story. For instance, at one point The First decides to wait for the group to finish touring through the difficult part of a long cave, but as we read through the tour of that part, The First is with them and thinks to herself that she has to do it because it's probably the last time she'll be there. This was not the only example of this kind of contradiction.

I felt impatient with the extreme detail used to describe many aspects of the story. In a few places the story seemed to become an herbalist's field guide more than a story about Ayla and Jondolar. In a couple of other places the effort to describe the caves seems like an effort to prove how much research time Auel spent in familiarizing herself with art from prehistoric times. As a result of these two, I did not enjoy this book as much as I have the preceding books in the series. However, that may be in large part because I have grown in knowledge and experience so very much from the time I read Valley of Horses.

Given my own life experiences, I can't help but wonder if Auel has ever lived a homestead-type life with all the work entailed in starting from scratch. I wonder because she writes about such with rather rose-colored glasses and in such as way as to make such very attractive. In some ways, I'm glad she did. If she hadn't done so in Valley of the Horses, I may not have ever been willing to move to Texas the way we did. It is because of my experience, though that I know how very rose-colored Auel's glasses are.

Skimming or skipping paragraphs in a novel is usually detrimental to one's understanding of the action of the story. Have you ever done it? I rarely do, in all honesty, however, I found myself doing it pretty regularly once I made it to about page 350 in The Land of Painted Caves. I'm relatively certain I didn't miss anything pertinent to the story line. That, in itself, seems to me another confirmation that she and/or her editor didn't perform as much cutting as they could and probably should have.

Have you read The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel? If you have, what did you think of it?
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