Wednesday, June 08, 2011

In which Ayla and Jondalar finish inventing everything (spoilers)

I just finished The Land of Painted Caves : the sixth and purportedly last in Jean M Auel's Earth's children series. I first began reading this series in high school, with The Clan of the Cave Bear , picking each new book up as it came out and rereading the whole series every few years. I've always been fascinated with Paleolithic humans, and these books have always scratched my itch. Keeping that in mind, on to the review.
Painted Caves suffered from the same issue that every book since the first has suffered from- repetition. Not just in the form of repeated recaps from previous books, but recaps from earlier parts of the same book. Not the best way to keep a reader engaged. Auel could have cut 1/4 from each of these books if she left out repeated recaps and reminders of what had happened in the last chapter . It's almost like she was getting paid by the word. As always, Ayla and Jondalar serve us ultra perfect archetypes to encapsulate what was probably centuries of human discovery.  The tedious descriptions of the main characters' perfect bodies grinding together perfectly have mostly been replaced by tedious descriptions of cave art (Ayla was too busy looking at caves and preparing to become a spiritual leader  to get it on with Jondalar, which will cause serious problems for them). By the end of the book, our Paleolithic ancestors have discovered how babies are really made, and the almost inevitable concept of monogamy which must follow.
While I did find much of the book tedious, I also greatly enjoyed it. Auel's research is extensive and I have not found better pre-historic fiction. I found myself skipping some parts, including the times when we once  again have to sit through the Mother's Song or the recitation of someones ties. Once per book is enough, please.
Interesting side note- after discussing with my husband the repetitiveness of these books, he suggested that it was possible he could read only the last book ( never having read the others, but having seen the movie  ) and not have to read the whole series. Not sure of he'll do that, but could be an interesting experiment.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger Jenn L in Chicago said...

OMG yes. The Mother's Song drove me bonkers. And the recapping of previous events was also annoying, considering I did a full series re-read leading into LOPC (even though I knew how much she likes to rehash). I was definitely glad to get past the detailed sex scenes, though.

I must admit... I would love to see a new movie series - or maybe a made-for-TV miniseries - made of these novels. Pretend that the Daryl Hannah version doesn't exist. Take out most of the never-ending sex (a couple instances do need to be there in some form - once with Broud, Ayla's First Rites, some of the situation with Ranec), truncate much of the interminable traveling, and I bet they could get all six books down to 8 hours or so.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger gojirama said...

I would love to see that!
I think myabe this time aroud she realised ( and from her latest Charlaine Harris did too)that there are only so many times you can describe sex between THE SAME people!
Now we have to start fantasy casting your series ;)

At 10:55 AM, Blogger knittingsheeple said...

A reviewer on Goodreads said that he'd made the book into a drinking game. Every time there's a comment on Ayla's interesting accent, drink. Ditto each time Wolf is introduced to someone and the process is explained AGAIN. I would add that you could get completely sloshed if you did it every time she entered a cave or commented on the cave art.

I only made it halfway thru before I had to return it to the library.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger gojirama said...

That's hilarious, knittingsheeple! You'd have to read one chapter a day that way.


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