The Shelters of Stone by Jean M. Auel
Ayla and Jondalar are adjusting to their new lives at the ninth cave. Jondalar’s family accepts Ayla and are very impressed, so are many people in the cave, but some people aren’t. Some people think Ayla should have the lowest status out of anybody there because she’s a foreigner. They also think she should have a low status because she used to live with the clan or the Flatheads as people call them. Ayla proves herself over and over again though.
She sets up a feeding schedule for a baby whose mother doesn’t have milk anymore. She saves a boy who was attacked by a wild rhino at the summer meeting. She impresses everyone with her clothing making skills. She finds a special cave at the summer meeting, which people immediately say is sacred. All of the religious leaders of the caves are very impressed with what Ayla knows. The religious leader of the ninth cave believes that Ayla is destined to be a part of their ranks, even if she is married and has a child on the way.
After the summer meeting, Ayla has her baby, which she names Janayla. People are surprisingly fine with this weird name. Time goes on and Ayla is pressured again to join the religious leaders of the caves. She finally decides that she does feel the call and prepares to receive training.
What I liked
This book series is so interesting. Jean did quite a bit of research to write these books. She had to fill in a lot of blanks because obviously, we don’t have written records of how these prehistoric lived their lives; the very definition of prehistoric means before we had written records. I think she did a great job though. She included as much history as she could that was relevant. Part of what she included was references to cave paintings and probably the oldest sculpture in the world, The Venus of Willendorf.
A lot of people may not think some paintings of horses, bison, and other animals on some cave walls are very important, but they are. Those cave paintings in Europe are basically the earliest human recorded records; it’s when prehistory started to become history. We don’t know exactly why they painted on the walls, but they did. We could assume that perhaps someone religious painted them for religious purposes, but we don’t know for sure. The fact that Jean worked those cave paintings into this book attaches Ayla’s people to the real world, or at least what we know about our history at the time.
What I didn’t like
I do really like this series. I can’t really pick anything terrible about this book out. Perhaps the only thing I could say is that maybe Ayla is just too awesome. She’s almost too good to be true and too good to be true is hard to relate to.
We’re going to summer meeting and we’re gonna get ma-a-a-ried.
If you were a prehistoric person, what would you paint on a cave wall and why?
Ayla’s society is fairly matriarchal in ways, how do you think our society would be different as a matriarchal society?