The Land of Painted Caves

By Jean M. Auel

Why I Chose This Book
Are you kidding me? I read the first installment of this series, Clan of the Cave Bear, when I was 11. Posting at The AuelBoard forum (Member #2375) got me through two bad jobs and whatever temp worker assignment came with internet access. I loved these books. Well, not the fifth one. But it was my Solemn Duty to follow the story to its end.

Why I Chose Right Now to Review This Book
I’ve been reading up a storm this week, and I’ve accrued quite the backlog of titles to post about. This one has been read for I bet more than two weeks, and I just want to get it off of my chest. Plus it’s late, and I know it won’t be long. Fancy that!

Nutshell Review of the Book
I barely remember what happened. I do remember thinking at around the 60 percent mark that the book wasn’t terrible, and being kind of into the story, and then it broke off into “Part 2” and “Part 3” (which is new for Auel) and I believe it tanked. There were too many visits to too many caves, more repetitions of the Mother Song (series fans will know what I’m talking about–YES, it’s in there more than once), and a climax that was sort of, well, dumb. Plus repetitive. And I’m not just talking Mother’s Song repetitive; this is plot lifted straight from prior books. Memorable prior books. And there’s this part where Ayla… with who? With THAT person? OMG. So unbelievable. It’s baffling.

Detailed Review of the Book

If you made it through Shelters of Stone (and I did, once), you know how to read Auel. Plains of Passage was practice for skipping the boring parts; it had these descriptions of plants and landscapes, and unnecessary recapping of events from prior novels, which nonetheless alternated with exciting material. SoS had much less exciting material to alternate the boring parts with, but you could basically flip through to what story there was (which really only led up to Ayla having a baby and nothing else of note). So I flat-out missed most of the crap that permeated LoPC, because I have the instinct now for when to start tuning out, which is why I sincerely entertained the idea that the book wasn’t terrible. And then there’s this part where Jondalar decides to take on an apprentice and the book abruptly ends Part 1 (so unusual for the series that it was actually confusing), and years pass before Part 2 starts, and then Part 2 is so short that it is just as jarring when there’s a Part 3.  And you know what? Those parts are completely forgettable. Completely. Oh, there’s some stuff where Ayla is up all night learning about the celestial calendar, and she does a fair amount of harping on the idea that men make babies, and you see a lot of Wolf, but it’s cave after cave after cave after cave and Zelandoni rides on a horse travois to go to some caves and then some other caves and then there’s a stupid plot lifted from an earlier book and I can’t even tell you what else, partly because I am keeping this spoiler-free and partly because I have forgotten. The only action I can recall is the action that was lifted plot point by plot point from earlier books, and it was done best the first time.

Skip this book. The end of PoP is a lovely conclusion to Ayla and Jondalar’s tale, and if you read on it won’t matter. LoPC (and for that matter, SoS, which I’m not reviewing, but thought I’d throw that in) evaporates from your mind the minute you close the book. There’s nothing in there to take home.

What’s on Deck
The second book in the Game of Thrones series–it’s actually in the house, so I’ll probably open it. Undecided about reading it.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (TABLED–there are library books with due dates to get to)

Woman on the Edge of Time by (Marge?) Piercy–IN PROGRESS, and it’s traumatic to read so far.

House on the Strand by Daphne DuMaurier

Mary Anne by Daphne DuMaurier

Something by Anna Shreve about a man obsessed with his wife.

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