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 The tedious descriptions of the main characters' perfect bodies grinding together perfectly have mostly been replaced by tedious descriptions of cave art (Ayla was too busy looking at caves and preparing to become a spiritual leader to get it on with Jondalar, which will cause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.