The series to which The Clan of the Cave Bear belongs was a favorite of my maternal grandmother. I can remember in the 80s and 90s, seeing the thick volumes laying on the little table next to her chair in the family room. But, aside from the first five pages just now, I’ve never been moved to read it, never had the series recommended to me by anyone in my family. (My mom read the first couple of books, as well.)
Strangely enough the motivation to read the book came three days ago. While ‘relaxing’ one evening, looking up info on the human genome, I happened upon a photo of the cave paintings (or a replica of the paintings) of Chauvet-Pont d’Arc. I couldn’t look away. It’s a long-time dream of mine to visit one such cave in France. But in all my visits to the areas surrounding these caves, I’ve never been able to go. One day, perhaps, after I write a book series like Auel’s, I’ll get a chance to go inside Chauvet.
This little detour into the Chauvet caves (and others) inspired me for some unexplained reason to think of The Clan of the Cave Bear. Maybe it was the reference to cave bears I was hearing. Maybe just the word cave. Who knows what got triggered in my brain. I was surprised to see that the book series that had always been sitting on a side table in the cavernous recess of my memories was about the people, nay the artists, who had created the masterpieces of Chauvet, Altamira and others.
My grandmother was an artist, but I don’t think she read Auel’s series because any interest in cave paintings. (She read all except for The Land of Painted Caves; she passed into eternity in 2006.) Nor do I think it was because she believed that modern humans evolved from ape-like creatures. She didn’t. I’m sure she kept being drawn back to the narrative because her story aligned in some ways with Ayla’s story.
Maybe after all that I can just be content to look at photos of cave paintings and not wish to see them with my own eyes.
And then, maybe not.
That’s not my story.
Not if God’s got anything to do with this.