Monday, March 14, 2011

Review Catch-Up: The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Blue Castle

So, I've fallen a bit behind on my reviews as of late and since I blazed through books this past weekend I figure I should do a little two-for-one to catch up. 

First up, The Clan of the Cave Bear the first book in the Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel:

Publisher summary:
Here is a novel of awesome beauty and power.  A moving saga about people, relationships and the boundaries of love.  Through Jean Auel's magnificent storytelling, we are taken back to the dawn of mankind and swept up in the wonderful world of a very special heroine, Ayla.  Her enthralling story is one we can all share.  A natural disaster has left young Ayla alone, wandering, fending for herself in an unfamiliar land.  One day, she is discovered by the Clan of the Cave Bear, men and women far different from her own people.  The tall, blonde, blue-eyed Ayla is a mysterious stranger to the Clan and at first they mistrust her and cast her out.  But as she grows to know them and learn the ways of the Clan, she is welcomed.  And as she leads them in their struggle for survival, the Clan comes to worship Ayla.  For in her blood flows the future of humanity.

The most interesting aspect of this book is the prehistoric setting.  The author obviously did an enormous amount of research as all of the actions and skills displayed by the characters are detailed and seemingly realistic for the times.  I liked it enough that I do still want to read the rest of the series as I became attached to the character of Ayla.  She is such a strong, well-drawn, appealing character and you can't help but want to find out what adventures come her way in the next installment.

I recommend this book to those who like historical fiction or are interested in the dawn of the human race and to those who have a particular fondness for charismatic heroines.

3.5/5 stars.

Secondly, I recently finished The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame).

"Fear is the only original sin. Almost all of the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that someone was afraid of something."

This quote from her favorite author forever changes the life of the spinsterish Valancy, when one fateful day she decides to take charge of her own existence and defy the customs of her traditional small town and oppressive family.

Now, one has to remember that this was written back in the 1920s, so Valency's emancipative actions would have been quite scandalous.  While it may have been a unique plot-line at the's now fairly obvious where the storyline is leading as the narrative unfolds.  That being said, the plot is so apparent that I was almost surprised when scenes manifest as expected.  It's a lovely and cozy little romance that includes beautiful imagery and reverence of the outdoors.  The main themes are facing one's fears, living in the moment, and not judging others based on appearances...impressive subjects for a slim novel, no?  If you love Ms. Montgomery's Anne series then you'll surely fall for this book as well.

3.5/5 stars.

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