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Book Review: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Updated on September 20, 2014
Clan of the Cave Bear
Clan of the Cave Bear

The 1st Book in the Earth's Children Series

The Clan of the Cave Bear: Orphaned as a young child in the brutal world of Prehistoric Europe during the Ice Age, the little Cro-Magnon girl is found by a passing Clan of Neanderthals in search of a new cave to call home. The medicine woman of the Clan adopts the strange child of the Others, who is near death from exposure and a close encounter with a cave lion that left its claw marks on her leg. The Clan shaman, the great Mog-ur, believes the powerful totem of the cave lion that scarred her leg protects her, and he urges the Clan leader to allow the girl to stay.

The totem seems to pay off immediately for the wandering Clan. Shortly after finding the child, the Clan discovers a new cave that fits their needs perfectly: a large cavern for protection from the elements and enough space for all, with access to fresh water and good hunting grounds. Finding signs that the cave was once inhabited by the cave bear - the sacred totem of the Clan - solidifies the cave as the new home for the Clan.

The Clan of the Cave Bear: Available at Amazon

The Clan of the Cave Bear

by Jean M. Auel

The Clan of the Cave Bear is the story of Ayla, growing up as an outsider in the tightly knit culture of the Clan. Protected by the only mother she can remember, Ayla struggles to learn the tasks and behaviors that come so easily to the other Clan children. Her physical appearance along with her ability to speak and cry, makes her stand out as ugly and weak in comparison to the stoutly built and muscular Clan women, and she accepts her position as the lowest ranking member in the Clan.

Slowly, most of the Clan begrudgingly begins to accept her abilities and differences from their deeply rooted cultural traditions. In some cases, her abilities prove beneficial to the Clan, and she gains favor and respect from Brun, the leader of the Clan. The differences and her successes also further enrage Broud, the son of Brun and the Clan's future leader, who refuses to accept Ayla as a member of the Clan. And her defiant attitude together with her natural curiosity leads to conflict within the strict Clan society.

The Clan of the Cave Bear chronicles the daily life of the Clan, mixing the rich tapestry of the Neanderthal social interactions and their beliefs in the supernatural with the struggle to survive in the hostile prehistoric environment. The fictional novel is filled with interesting details of primitive anthropology that were thoroughly researched by the author.

The first in the series of the Earth's Children novels written by Jean M. Auel, The Clan of the Cave Bear is an engaging story that kept me interested from the first page through to the end of the book. While I also enjoyed most of the other books in the series, the The Clan of the Cave Bear stands out as my favorite and I've re-read the story several times over the years. If you are interested in the Earth's Children novels, I suggest reading them in chronological order to follow the travels, growth and transformation of Ayla.

Have You Read The Clan of the Cave Bear?

Have You Read The Clan of the Cave Bear?

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The Clan of the Cave Bear - Hardcover Book

Clan of the Cave Bear Travel Map

Clan of the Cave Bear Map
Clan of the Cave Bear Map

Which Did You Enjoy Most?

Some readers lament that after reading a book, seeing the movie version often lacks the depth of characters and plot, or the director might even make changes to the story line.

Which did you like better, reading the Clan of the Cave Bear or watching the movie? Why?

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The Earth's Children Series

Novels written by Jean M. Auel

Share your thoughts on the Clan of the Cave Bear or any of the books in the Earth's Children series

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I came across the books in the 1990s. I read the first four books all in a row at the time. I only had to wait for 5 and 6. Jean Auel did such a awesome job on research of the subject matter for the books. I was sad when book 6 ended the series. It would be awesome for more books and movies! I re-read the series every year. I am on book 5 currently. I listen to all the books now, but I did have the large print oversize versions which I gave to one of my daughters. Ayla is my hero! She is a great role model for anyone. A lot of the characters in the books are great role models as well. Great review lens! You should do a review on all the other 5 books!

    • LoriBeninger profile image


      6 years ago

      I've heard so much about this book since its initial publication and your lens just renewed my interest. Thank you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for this creative lens..

    • floppypoppygift1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I want to sit down and read these one day. As soon as I have a great lot of free time! Cheers~cb


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