The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel Anthropology has always interested me. In college, I earned a degree in Anthropological Sciences, studying subjects like paleoanthropology, archaeology, primatology as well as as hunting-gathering societies and human culture. It was this interest that led me to the Earth's Children series, when I recently glimpsed "The Land of Painted Caves" (book 6) in a new releases newsletter. Intrigued, I decided to pick up book 1, The Clan of the Cave Bear.

I'd never read a historical fiction like this, featuring Neanderthals and prehistoric anatomically modern humans as the main characters. That already earns this novel a full star in my book, since I've seen nothing else that tackles this time period.

The first thing I noticed was that this book was very carefully researched. There were some inaccuracies, most notably anatomical ones, but I also remind myself that this book was written in 1980. As well, Auel takes many artistic liberties with Neanderthal social behaviors, especially with those relating to gender roles.

But on the whole, the facts were well done. While much of the paleoanthropological facts in the book are mostly of a general nature, reading it did bring back some fond memories of school, like the time I got to learn to knap my own flint tools (it's harder than you would expect, by the way).

But that's as far as my enjoyment of the book went, I'm afraid. I think I understand what the author was trying to do, showing the straightforward way prehistoric hominins might have communicated or conveyed their thoughts, but after a while the repetition and the internal dialogue really grated me.

I also felt the story was good, but it was told in a long, drawn out manner, using mostly descriptions of the characters' every-day life and relationships. Ironically, at times it felt like I was reading an ethnography instead of a novel.