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
After their epic journey across Europe, Ayla and Jondalar have reached his home, the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii, the old stone age settlement in the region known today as southwest France. Jondalar's family greet him warmly, but they are initially wary of the beautiful young woman he has brought back, with her strange accent and her tame wolf and horses.
Ayla has much to learn from the Zelandonii and much to teach them. She is intrigued by their clothes, their crafts, and their home, and wants to learn their customs and the ways that they live, so that she will fit in. She is delighted when she meets Zelandoni, the spiritual leader of her people, a fellow healer with whom she can share medicinal skills and knowledge. The Zelandonii are surprised to learn she was found and raised by the Clan, the ones that they call flatheads and think of as animals, and are skeptical when she tells them they are people.
After the rigors and dangers that have characterized her extraordinary life so far, Ayla yearns for peace and tranquility, to be Jondalar's mate and to have children. But her unique spiritual gifts cannot be ignored, and even as she gives birth to her eagerly-awaited child, she is coming to accept that she has a greater role to play in the destiny of the Zelandonii.
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