The Land of Painted Caves, by Jean M. Auel (New York: Crown Publishing, 2011)
"It is summer in the land of the Zelandonii, and it is nearly time for the next Summer Meeting. Ayla finds it is time to strike a balance between being a mother to her daughter, Jonayla, and a loving mate to Jondalar, while pursuing the fascinating knowledge and power of the Zelandoni, led by the charismatic First Among Those Who Served the Mother of the Zelandoni of the Ninth Cave."
"The band of travelers walked along the path between the clear sparkling water of Grass River and the black-streaked white limestone cliff, following the trail that paralleled the right bank."
It's a good thing I read quickly, and that I'm not shy about skimming or skipping passages that don't do a lot for me. Painted Caves could have been worse, I suppose, and I fully anticipated that it would be -- largely because all the informal scuttlebutt I heard online said the book was pretty darned god-awful. And it certainly wasn't great, but I found it more predictable and often tedious than out-and-out bad. This review in the L.A. Times, by Liesel Bradner, pretty much sums it up, though I think she's a bit more complimentary than I would have been.
I went into this book thinking it was going to wrap up the series, which started out very strong (and 30+ years ago) with Clan of the Cave Bear before falling hopelessly into the boring (Valley of Horses) and silly (Shelters of Stone). It doesn't, really -- at least not cleanly, which makes me think Auel's planning to cash in yet again if Painted Caves sells reasonably well. I'll probably be enough of a sucker to read Book 7 if she does, but I'll certainly borrow it (as I did this one) rather than buy it for myself.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.