Ayla is Back! Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series introduced us to one of the original beautiful, strong, and self-sufficient female protagonist back in 1980 and in this last installment of the series, The Land of Painted Caves, we find Ayla training to become Zealandoni (shaman) of the clan. For those unfamiliar with the story it follows Cro-Magnon Ayla who was orphaned at 5 and adopted by Neanderthals. The series offers encyclopedic documentation of how Ayla survives with the Neanderthal, alone, and eventually flourishes amongst her own people. Admirers of Auel will be accustomed to and appreciate the attention to detail the new book offers and will gain additional tidbits on how to thrive in the wilds including how to kill and dress a wolverine. Some might find this meticulous style tedious, perhaps even annoying, but fans will enjoy a refresher course in how to make fire, tea, and helpful herbal remedies from 25,000 years ago.
The Land of the Painted Caves takes place in what is modern day France and those of you who have been, or would like to ride, with ExperiencePlus! along the Dordogne River Valley will find a special connection to Auel’s description of the landscapes found in the area. Auel also does an extraordinary job describing the cave art Ayla encounters and visited every cave that she describes in the book including Lascaux. In fact she has become an honorary scholar and is respected for her theories on what some of the paintings represent. Auel, like Picasso, believes that Cro-Magnon, or modern humans- were the inventors of art so it is understandable that Ayla seems the first to conceive of art appreciation. The caves and their paintings play an important role in the novel as Ayla emerges from a cave after receiving her calling from a higher power known as the Great Mother Earth.
A great travel read especially if your plans include the Dordogne area of France. The Earth’s Children series has sold more than 45 million books worldwide which is more startling because each book averages more than 700 pages. It is a testimony to Ayla’s popularity and our desire to see how she’ll overcome the next threatening obstacle be it earthquakes, family feuds, jealous exes, rapists, or the aforementioned wolverine.