Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel was one of my latest reads. My dad bought me this and the second in the Earth Children series, Valley of the Horses, at a library book-sale. This book was a best-seller when it appeared in the early 1980s and was often mentioned by one of my anthropolgy professors.
This a very good narrative. It follows Ayla, a young Cro-Magnon girl, who was orphaned at 5 by an earthquake. She is raised by a band of Neanderthals, the Clan of the Cave Bear, at the end of the Neanderthal reign. Her care-takers are confused and often threatened by this young girl and her capacity to think and change. The Clan is forced to adhere strictly to traditions, because they lack the capacity to fathom change. As hard as she tried not to, Ayla breaks every taboo and crosses every sacred line of the Clan’s.
Overall, this is a story of survival and percerverance, as well as a story about change and evolution. Since the 80’s many new discoveries have occurred in the field of anthropology, and many old theories tossed aside, so anyone semi-fluent in this field will notice the descrepencies. However, they remain undistracting because the story flows so well.
P.S. The movie Clan of the Cave Bear starring Daryl Hannah is not much like the book and certainly not worth watching. Yuck.