Jean Auel's fifth novel about Ayla, the Cro-Magnon cavewoman raised by Neanderthals, is the biggest comeback bestseller in Amazon.com history. In The Shelters of Stone, Ayla meets the Zelandonii tribe of Jondalar, the Cro-Magnon hunk she rescued from Baby, her pet lion. Ayla is pregnant. How will Jondalar's mom react? Or his bitchy jilted fiancée? Ayla wows her future in-laws by striking fire from flint and taming a wild wolf. But most regard her Neanderthal adoptive Clan as subhuman "flatheads." Clan larynxes can't quite manage language, and Ayla must convince the Zelandonii that Clan sign language isn't just arm-flapping. Zelandonii and Clan are skirmishing, and those who interbreed are deemed "abominations." What would Jondalar's tribe think if they knew Ayla had to abandon her half-breed son in Clan country? The plot is slow to unfold, because Auel's first goal is to pack the tale with period Pleistocene detail, provocative speculation, and bits of romance, sex, tribal politics, soap opera, and homicidal wooly rhino-hunting adventure. It's an enveloping fact-based fantasy, a genre-crossing time trip to the Ice Age. --Tim Appelo
From Publishers Weekly
The tiny minority of authors with the power to sell millions of novels each time out are a diverse bunch, but they share a talent for ushering readers into previously closed worlds, whether they're the top-secret inner sanctums of the American military or the ancient lands of magic. The best of them craft terrific stories that tap into universal topics, primal fears and deep-seated longings. In 1980, Auel became a member of this elite club. Her first novel, Clan of the Cave Bear, the exceptional and absorbing account of a bright Cro-Magnon girl struggling to understand the ways of the Neanderthals who adopted her, became a huge bestseller and launched the Earth's Children series, which has sold 34 million copies to date. In the next three of an intended six volumes, Ayla the Cro-Magnon girl grew up and put a pretty face on our earliest ancestors, as Auel explored the mother of all human themes: adapt or die. After the fourth bestseller, The Plains of Passage, however, 12 years elapsed, and Auel thereby added the protracted anticipation of her fans to her bestselling mix. Here at last, beautiful Ayla and her tall, gorgeous Cro-Magnon lover, Jondalar, arrive in Jondalar's Zelandonii homeland, to live with his clan in vast caves of what today is France. Travelling with a pet wolf and two horses, able to speak the strange language of the "flatheads," Ayla is once again an exotic outsider. Pregnant with Jondalar's child and as zealous in her desire to help as she is resourceful and creative as a medicine woman, Ayla soon wins the respect of the people she wishes to join. Bursting with hard information about ancient days and awash in steamy sex (though lacking the high suspense that marked Ayla's debut), Auel's latest will not only please her legions of fans but will hit the top of the list, pronto.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.