memories of the ’80s – Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

At the beginning of a new decade, the launch of a unique book series started jumping onto bestseller lists across North America: Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel.

The Earth’s Children series focuses on the possible interaction between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnum humans.

Auel spent hours in libraries and at archaeological conferences to learn about the current research into these two groups.

Auel’s story revolves around a five year old Cro Magnum girl who survives an earthquake, but her family and camp have disappeared. She wanders aimlessly, attacked by wild animals and on the brink of death is found by a Neanderthal medicine woman, whose home and fellow community have also been displaced by the earthquake.

Adopted by the new community, the girl is named Ayla and soon is thought to be good luck as they discover a safe cave for the community to inhabit. Unlike herself, the Neanderthal’s have limited speech and use sign language to communicate. As she grows, Ayla continues to conflict with her new family and struggles against the rules that are placed upon her being a female and an outsider.

Auel’s historical book of the Ice Age was first published in 1980 by Crown Publishing and earned an endless list of positive reviews including one from The New York Times.

In consequent years, the series continued to include six books, which detailed the world of the humans in the Ice Age as well as revealed the universal story of survival, conflict, love and family.

The book was adapted for the big screen in 1986, starring Darryl Hannah, in which she rarely spoke, making it a unique film of the decade for its odd production with almost no dialogue.

For the book world, this historical fiction series stood apart, choosing to go back into the depths of time far beyond the usual bounds of history to reveal the early beginnings of mankind.

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About Waheeda Harris

A freelance journalist with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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