Earth's Children Series
Author: Jean M. Auel
Publication Date: January 1st, 1980
My Thoughts: You know when you read a book and as soon as you're done you wonder if it's a series or not? That was these books for me. I happen to love a good book based in a historical setting, I also enjoy a strong female heroine. This series is based in the Ice Age world and follows Ayla, who is orphaned as a child, throughout her very eventful life, as she learns about love, jealousy and compassion.
When I first read Clan of the Cave Bear, I was in awe. It is beautifully written, and the details are amazing. Jean Auel has definitely given us a saga to read over and over again, I know I've read it multiple times and I will definitely read it again. Sometimes I wish that life could be as simple as in these stories.
This saga consists of six novels, each of them based mainly around Ayla (in Valley of the Horses it does concentrate some of the narration on Jondalar). From being orphaned, to being taken into the Clan, to being exiled and heading off into the unknown, to finding people like herself and travelling home with a man she has fallen irrevocably in love with and starting a family. It's all there. The story shows the boundries of love and the jealously that can arise from such a strong, intense love. It also gives an amazingly detailed vision of life during the Ice Age, Auel definitely did her research.
Ayla is a very modest woman. Growing up in the Clan made her this way because she was so different from the Clan. The considered her ugly and stupid, so that is what she thinks of herself. Despite many men, including Jondalar insisting she is beautiful, she doesn't believe them. She is also extremely smart because she had to train herself to remember everything, something that comes effortlessly to Clan, since they are born with their memories. The Clan communicates with sign language, so Ayla forgets how to speak, and is incapable of lying since the Clan cannot lie. When she meets Jondalar, after being exiled from the Clan, she has no way to communticate with him, but even with the communication barrier, they still fall in love.
Jondalar decides to talk Ayla home with him, which is a years journey away, she is worried that the others won't like her, but she doesn't need to fear this because pretty much everyone loves her, other than a few people who are jealous of her.
If you are looking for a great read I definitely recommend this series. The only negative thing I have to say about it is the sixth book contains a lot of repetition from the previous books, possibly because it was written so long after the fifth book. It's still a good book, certainly not a reason to ignore it.