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View Full Version : Jean Auel Gets the Smack-Down.



triceretops
11-11-2007, 03:23 PM
This book has no conflict. This book has no action. This book has positively no character development. This book practically deconstructs any good done in "CotCB" and "VoH". In fact, this book has absolutely *nothing* to justify spending 28 dollars and 12 years of anticipation. Any first-time writer sending this in would be firmly rejected and laughed at. "SoS" indeed--very apt. Send out the distress call and load the lifeboats, because this one plummets to the bottom fast under the weight of its own bloated self-importance. A solid F. (A partial of one of the hundreds of similar reviews)


I must say that I've never seen such blistering, scathing reviews before for an A-list best-selling author as I have with Jean M. Auel's The Shelters of Stone. Even Ann Rice never took such a beating, or Terry Goodkind, for that matter. There must be over 900 reviews of this book, which was released in 2002, after a 12-year hiatus, and most of them are dreadfully explicit and quite accurate in what they are trying to portray. I think SoS has an average 2.5 stars across the board, and a good percentage of the reviews are current and still creeping in.

I read over 250 reviews, facinated by the accounts of both fans of the series and one-time readers. The consenses is that there is something tragically wrong with this tome, even evidenced by the readers who gave it high marks. And it has everything to do with ALL of the basic craft techniques associated with capable writing. How could verbosity, repetition, lack of plot and conflict, cardboard characterization, stilted dialogue, massive info-dumping, deliberate padding, and all other elements be that prevalent in a work put out by a seasoned writer? Nearly all of the people who read it admitted to skipping paragraphs, pages and whole chapters. Apparently it was that boring. All of them confessed that it was the most contrite, sluggish read they've ever encountered. Dozens accussed her of using a ghost writer, and many blamed a complete and total lack of editing. A few people blamed her publisher, Crown.

Now, to be fair, I've always liked Jean and always will, having followed her articles and interviews. She was a very early inspiration to me. Sadly I've never read ANY of her books. So I cannot, and won't speak on that matter. It seems that no one really considered that she's not the young bird that she was when she came out with CotCB. What is she, about 71 years-old now? Is it possible that she had a stroke that we're not aware of? Maybe the onset of senility has taken its toll.

Or is this one of the biggest rip-offs in literary history? Why has it taken her over 29 years (aprox) to knock out only five, count em, five books in an award-winning series? You would think that with such success, her books would be delivered to an eager public in a timely fashion, at least with some exhuberance and gratitude for the wealth accumulated. Why was this book seemingly cobbled together, containing identicle information that was present in the others, and passed off as a new work? Who were the real authors? Has Jean lost interest in her storyline, and is she really the textbook version of a doomed series writer?

It would be interesting to hear any accounts from her fans out there. Could somebody who has read Shelters of Stone (or any of the others) chime in here and give us their thoughts on this? I'm insanely curious about what happened in this author's case.

Thanks,

Tri

scarletpeaches
11-11-2007, 03:28 PM
Age is no excuse. I've read books by authors far older and they've still had all their wits about them. We can't assume that writing quality declines as we age. In fact, it should improve.

WittyandorIronic
11-11-2007, 04:14 PM
I've read all of her books, andI reread three of them about once every 2 years. She is one of the first author's that took me beyond YA books, and I thought she was brilliant. But the criticism for SoS is a little misleading.
Auel has always used info dumps to a high degree. One of the reasons, IMHO, for the few books in such a long career (minus the rumored publisher issue that postponed SoS) is because her books are 1/2 story and 1/2 fictionalized history. She doesn't just focus on her characters and their story, she focuses on what she imagines and meticulously researches to be the climate, landscape, and flora and fauna of the time. She gives you insight into the life and land at prehistoric times (dramatized of course) and that means that her readers have always skipped parts or skimmed when feeling lazy. I LOVED the descriptions of grasslands and glaciers when I first read the books...when I reread them I certainly skip over the 19 pages of flora description. I already know the scene and the history.
I never liked CotCB, which surprises me considering how much I loved VoH, tMH, and PoP. Those books spoke to me in a way very few titles since have, and I have worn paperback versions, beautiful hardcovers and many more duplicates in my collection.
I have also read SoS several times, but not with the love and sentimentalism as the others. It was not the same type of stories as the others, but I don't think it deserves the vitriol of those negative reviews. You can call it lazy or whatever else, but IMHO I think that SoS was a long epilogue meant specifically for people who already loved the series. I don't think it was (or can be) a standalone book, which is probably why so few liked it. Ayla and Jondalar were probably very cardboard and uninteresting if you weren't already in love or closely involved with them. If you read the series 12 years prior and then picked it up, it probably didn't work very hard to bring you into the characters and the story. But if you were like me, than it was like an extended version of PoP. lol. The story after the story kind of concept.
Knowing what I do now about writing and the common "rules and tips" that are thrown around, I can see where she broke about every single one at some point. Sometimes I felt she was much more of a historian than a writer. But obviously she did something right.
I will agree that SoS is not as well written as the others. But as for stoning the author....well IMHO I don't think that Auel deserves it nearly as much as others. *ahem* Laurell K. Hamilton *ahem*

Marian Perera
11-11-2007, 04:27 PM
I wrote a rather severe critique of the series on my website. I don't mind long descriptions or infodumps if the characters hold my interest, but there wasn't anything particularly intriguing about Ayla the Golden Girl or Jondalar of the Throbbing Member by the time I got to the last book. Which was a shame, because I felt much more sympathetic towards the Ayla of the first novel, back when bad things could and did happen to her.

Someone once described this series as "Mary Sue walks across Europe, slowly." After the first novel, this sums it up quite well for me.

Wallaceka
11-11-2007, 04:50 PM
I read Clan of the Cave Bear for the first time when I was 17 and adored it. I was mesmerized, just gobbling that book up.

I haven't liked the rest of the series very much, but I still re-read the first one. And I still just love it.

nerds
11-11-2007, 05:56 PM
Zoinkies.

I'm not an Auel fan, but that review alone would be enough to make one want to go reside with the bears in a cave somewhere and never write a word again. Holy jalapenos Batman.

KTC
11-11-2007, 06:02 PM
I have never even heard of this author before clicking on this thread. What are some of the books she wrote?

KTC
11-11-2007, 06:03 PM
Wait. Ha. I just googled her. I actually read Clan of the Cavebear. That's why I don't remember her...I thought that book sucked. Not my cuppa.

ajkjd01
11-11-2007, 06:23 PM
I've read the whole series, and I have to say that I agree that SoS was NOT a standalone book. I thought it was an epilogue. I felt that it wrapped things up nicely, but it didn't really create a whole lot of desire for me to read any thing else she writes in the series beyond it. To me it was an ending, not a continuing of the story.

I'm happy if it ends there. If it doesn't, then I probably won't continue with it.

badducky
11-11-2007, 07:31 PM
In my anxiously-waiting-for-reviews-to-trash-me phase of the career, I have come to the conclusion that the only thing that's really important is that the reviewer spelled the title and author correctly, and engage in communication about the book with others.

aka eraser
11-11-2007, 08:31 PM
I read and enjoyed the first book in the Clan series but vaguely recall tossing the 2nd one against the wall. Haven't tried any of her stuff since.

I think the likeliest reason an author/publisher releases a substandard work is (drumroll please) -- money. Another is to fulfill a contractual obligation.

GeorgieB
11-11-2007, 08:32 PM
Someone once described this series as "Mary Sue walks across Europe, slowly." After the first novel, this sums it up quite well for me.

I thought much the same when I tried to read "Clan of the Cave Bears". I said "tried" because I never finished it and never tried to read another of her books.

I wrote the following inside the front cover of the "Clan...": "This book gives the word garbage a whole new meaning". and left it in some RV park.

That's my opinion of her writing.

Good Word
11-11-2007, 08:56 PM
I remember really loving the first book way back when I read it, but hated the second and didn't finish it. I sort of remember it as a caveman soap opera.

scarletpeaches
11-11-2007, 09:24 PM
I tried reading her first book years ago, then I discovered setting fire to my own toenails was less painful.

chartreuse
11-11-2007, 09:39 PM
I read Clan of the Cave Bear when I was 12, and immediately fell in love with it. Every one of the books up through Plains of Passage has become a favorite of mine, and I reread them regularly. The books are far from perfect, but it is a huge comfort to me to be able to pick them up and transport myself to a vividly-drawn reality where there are no cell phones, no traffic, no corporations and people living their entire lives in touch with the natural world.

Now, as for Shelters of Stone...that book is perhaps the biggest disappointment I've ever suffered with a novel. It seems to me that it wasn't edited at all. There are scenes that are utterly pointless, bits of dialogue that don't make any sense whatsover and so much repetition of particular descriptive passages that what was previously just an annoying habit of Auel's becomes something that very nearly caused me to not bother to finish the book at all...

and those are just the more minor problems. She cops out big time on what should have been a really interesting conflict, by taking a former love interest of the male lead (whom he has not seen in years and who would otherwise have been in competition with Ayla) and dodges the whole subject by stressing dozens (if not hundreds) of times, that this former love interest is now the size of a small mammoth. She places the book in a setting where the population is many times larger than what the characters experienced in the previous books, but doesn't make any allowance for that and still insists on continuing her habit of introducing Ayla to what seems to be every single person.

She also, apparently in an attempt to prove to us that ancient man had EXACTLY the same problems we do, fills the book with arbitrary conflict, such as some mean-spirited girls who play practical jokes on Ayla and a family that would today be considered "white trash," with the stereotypical dirty living environment, bratty kids and alcoholic dad. This took away all of the escapist comfort of the previous books - I felt like I was reading a modern-day urban drama.

Most problematic, though, (as if the book needed any more problems), was the portrayal of Ayla herself. She was reduced in this book to a cardboard cut-out, completely lacking any real emotion or motivation. The relationship between her and Jondalar is lackluster as well, and when Ayla's dream of having another child is finally realized, it's dealt with in an off-the-cuff manner, and doesn't seem to have any impact at all once it happens. At the very end of the book, I forgot she had a kid at all.

I read Shelters of Stone twice - the first time because I had been anticipating it for so long and the second because I just had to see if it was really as bad as I thought it was. In the end, I had to conclude that it was even worse.

notpc
11-11-2007, 09:44 PM
I tried to read the first book to find out why it was so popular but I didn't get very far. It is basically Chicklit. So why was the first book so popular?

scarletpeaches
11-11-2007, 09:44 PM
Because it was chicklit.

chartreuse
11-11-2007, 09:45 PM
I've read the whole series, and I have to say that I agree that SoS was NOT a standalone book. I thought it was an epilogue. I felt that it wrapped things up nicely, but it didn't really create a whole lot of desire for me to read any thing else she writes in the series beyond it. To me it was an ending, not a continuing of the story.

I'm happy if it ends there. If it doesn't, then I probably won't continue with it.

That's another thing...it's not an ending. There's at least one more book planned, and I read recently that she has said that even that won't be the end of the story.

Which brings me to another beef of mine. The true end of this story needs to bring Ayla back into contact with Durc and the Clan that raised her. But I have read that that is absolutely not going to happen. I don't see any way to resolve Ayla's story without that closure, and am afraid that in the end these final books (SoS and whatever comes after) are going to have the effect of really trivializing the much better books that came before.

chartreuse
11-11-2007, 09:52 PM
Because it was chicklit.

That may be why some readers liked them, but that certainly wasn't the appeal for me. The people I've talked to who loved the book feel the same as I do...that all of the love stories and sex scenes were just something we tolerated. The real appeal of those books was the way they transported us back in time, the details of weapons, herbal medicine, firemaking techniques, hunting strategies, methods of preparing hides, the social organization of the various clans and tribes, etc., and, as I said before, reading about people who lived 100% of their lives in contact with nature.

I'm not a big fan of modern life, and I think we've lost at least as much as we've gained. The fact that the books let us get in touch with a little bit of that are their biggest draw, IMHO.

KTC
11-11-2007, 09:52 PM
I wrote the following inside the front cover of the "Clan...": "This book gives the word garbage a whole new meaning". and left it in some RV park.


Have I told you lately that I love you? I wish I had the book...I would write the same inside it and leave it in a bus terminal.

scarletpeaches
11-11-2007, 09:55 PM
That may be why some readers liked them, but that certainly wasn't the appeal for me. The people I've talked to who loved the book feel the same as I do...that all of the love stories and sex scenes were just something we tolerated. The real appeal of those books was the way they transported us back in time, the details of weapons, herbal medicine, firemaking techniques, hunting strategies, methods of preparing hides, the social organization of the various clans and tribes, etc., and, as I said before, reading about people who lived 100% of their lives in contact with nature.

I'm not a big fan of modern life, and I think we've lost at least as much as we've gained. The fact that the books let us get in touch with a little bit of that are their biggest draw, IMHO.

My point was...the person I was replying to said "It was chicklit," as if that was a reason to dislike a book. And I was endeavouring to show that the reason some people avoid particular books is also the reason others make an effort to seek them out and read them. One man's chicklit is another man's entertainment.

A. Hamilton
11-11-2007, 10:01 PM
I enjoyed the entire series prior to Shelters of Stone. I do admit to skimming through some of the endless detail in the middle books, I don't think I'll ever be insane enough to actually cook the meals or craft the tools described, so why waste my time with so much instruction? Simpler descriptions would have sufficed and I would still have been amazed. But overall I took much enjoyment from this series and was greatly looking forward to the final book.

For me, SoS's only worth came in its heft whilst throwing it angrily across the room. I was too far removed from Ayla after such a long passage of time, (which could be a blessing-who knows what anger could have been unleashed from anxious fans had this book come in a timely manner.) It's almost as if we were subject to the basic plot outline of the story, filled with little to no substance. In addition to some comments above about flat characters and anti-climatic or absent resolution to series-long themes and conflicts, Auel was annoyingly repetitive in this book. So little happened, yet this book was just as thick as the others.
Huge disappointment.

Marian Perera
11-11-2007, 10:07 PM
That's another thing...it's not an ending. There's at least one more book planned, and I read recently that she has said that even that won't be the end of the story.

Possible plot : Ayla invents the sailing ship and takes Jondalar, the Aylaspawn, the horses and the wolf on a journey to colonize the New World. Jondalar becomes seasick, but after Ayla whips up a stomach-settling tea out of seaweed and cuttlefish ink, they share Pleasures once again. And again. And again. Ayla domesticates a dolphin and rides on its back. They meet a Native American tribe which is awed by Ayla's beauty and her multiple inventions.

In the next book, Ayla will visit Australia and domesticate a kangaroo.

Williebee
11-11-2007, 10:13 PM
Clan was ok. Better than the movie (like that was hard.)

But I didn't finish any of the rest of the series, either. The only thing that bugs me more than info dumps are info dumps that I wrote.

GoergieB -- I used to leave paper backs on benches or other places when I finished them, all the time.

Know what? These days, when you do that in an airport, they follow you and take you to a small room for a little Q & A.

CheshireCat
11-11-2007, 10:53 PM
I read The Valley of Horses first, then Clan of the Cave Bear -- and liked Valley much better. At the time, a lot of us were comparing notes and decided that which of the first two you liked best seemed to depend on which one you read first.

All that said, I don't enjoy historical fiction as a rule, and was never tempted to continue reading the series. Same with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series: I read the first two and then lost interest.

What I find sad about this discussion is that so many writers seem content to dismiss the work with an easy (and wrong) label like Chicklit. Since Chicklit has a clear definition (modern-day woman worries about life, love, and shoes, usually in the big city and generally with some humor) that simply doesn't fit Auel's work, the only conclusion I can reach is that it's intended in this case as a dismissive and derogatory "just for chicks" label.

There are sex scenes and love stories: hey, chicklit!

If you don't like her work, you don't like it. If you had problems with a particular book and want to complain, fair enough. But don't slap a misleading and incorrect label on something.

We're writers. We, of all people, should know better than that.

Susan Breen
11-11-2007, 11:11 PM
I haven't read anything by her in years, but I've got to believe that it's bad enough to get an awful review on one book, but to have reviewers say that your whole career is miserable is as bad as it gets. COFCB must have gotten good reviews when it first came out, didn't it?

nerds
11-11-2007, 11:18 PM
I think it did, if I recall correctly. I do remember there was huge splash around it, tons of talk and publicity, and it did sell gajillions of copies, didn't it? Seems to me everyone I knew was reading it. It wasn't my cup of tea but that's neither here nor there - it did seem to be everyone else's at the time, and I think the reviews were at least decent for the most part.

CotCB had the same publicity aura around it that The Thorn Birds had, just massive attention.

WittyandorIronic
11-12-2007, 12:23 AM
"Anita Blake fights some bad guys and then sleeps with a bunch of people."
-LKH
"Someone discovers something controversial that the catholic church dislikes, and they chase him down and kill people to stop it becoming public."
-Dan Brown
"Small wizard boy goes to wizard school and fights bad guys with friends."
-JKR
"Cook book have recipes."
-All cookbooks...

Point being...that formulas work. Romances appeal to romance readers because they know they will get a HEA. Specifically regency romance readers expect a HEA, description of London during a specific time frame, description of dresses and balls. Same with horror, mystery, suspense, SF, and fantasy. So yes, when I pick up an Auel book I expect Ayla and Jondalar to travel, meet people, create things, explain the socio historic significance of certain practices and how simple inventions we take for granted can change the entire scope of life for primitive man. And I expect Ayla to be shyly beautiful and Jondalar to have a giant member...one that most woman can't handle... and they should share pleasures every 127.4 pages. lol. It's a formula I liked. No SoS was not her best work, or even particularly good, but I still loved most of her other books.

Will Lavender
11-12-2007, 12:46 AM
Chicklit? Clan of the Cavebear was my grandfather's favorite book. WTF?!

I've never read Auel, but this could be a case where her fans had eagerly anticipated SOS, so much so that anything she wrote would have disappointed them. Just a theory.*

* There are also those that simply disliked the first book, I'm sure -- BUT there's a whole chunk of folks who are deadset determined to hate what is popular. If you read through Amazon customer reviews of ginormous bestsellers, you'll find a bunch of scathing reviews that seem to be tinged not with any specific declarations of the book's weaknesses, but with more of a casual dismissal, a sort of air that anything the masses like must be shitty.

Eudaemonic
11-12-2007, 01:13 AM
Read Clan of the Cave Bear, and enjoyed it just enough to start the second. Have to agree with what someone said earlier - could not get past half-way through the second. Half way through it turned into erotica and I got sick of the repetitive sex scenes and lack of (any other) action. Maybe more stuff happened later, but I couldn't be bothered to find out at that point and put it down.

ShebaJones
11-12-2007, 01:35 AM
I read Clan of the Cave Bear and liked it reasonably well. I was also about thirteen. Then I read Valley of Horses. I thought it was okay, but even at a young age, I got irritated by the obvious Mary Sue. I haven't read any of the others.

I read the sex scenes in VoH over and over again during the horny teenage years, and found out how unrealistic they were some time later.

I think Ms. Auel deserves anything she gets. The end.

Will Lavender
11-12-2007, 01:45 AM
Wait. You all are telling me that Auel writes gratuitious sex and COCB was my grandfather's favorite book? What's next, slash in Grandmommy's old cedar chest? Harold Robbins stuffed under an aunt's mattress?

I'm getting to a lot of things here. The family onion is being peeled back. Keep it coming, people.

Unique
11-12-2007, 01:45 AM
We're writers. We, of all people, should know better than that.


We're writers. One would think we'd have a little more compassion for someone who once 'did' and now 'doesn't'.

I liked the books okay. It was a long time ago although I do vaguely remember wanting to smack Ayla with a heavy object - fatally.

Maybe the last book is a dud but vilifying the author like that. I'm surprised and disappointed.

Maybe I'll end up writing shite and tripe. If it isn't your cuppa shite and tripe, I can't wait to see what you say about me.

scarletpeaches
11-12-2007, 01:47 AM
If that were me being ripped to shreds, I'd appreciate people's honesty. I've always been the sort of person who prefers straight-talkers than people who pussyfoot around the truth. If people think I write shite and tripe, I want to know.

Eudaemonic
11-12-2007, 01:52 AM
Wait. You all are telling me that Auel writes gratuitious sex and COCB was my grandfather's favorite book? What's next, slash in Grandmommy's old cedar chest? Harold Robbins stuffed under an aunt's mattress?

I'm getting to a lot of things here. The family onion is being peeled back. Keep it coming, people.

That COTCB one doesn't have the sex, the MC's a kid for most of it although she does get raped.

It's the other ones that have all the sex.

Your grandad sounds fun though - mine's fave book would probably have been a manual on engineering.

Storm Dream
11-12-2007, 01:53 AM
I read VoH on the plane back from Hawaii when I was eleven or twelve. I had picked it up thinking it was some sort of adventure story, and for the first couple of chapters it was. I liked it very much.

Then I got to the sex scenes. Now, you must remember that aside from some horrifyingly extensive sex ed courses, I knew NOTHING about sex. Frankly, VoH was the first book I read that made it not...well, clinical.

I loved it. ;)

I read CotCB soon after, and liked that as well. Honestly, the first three books were the best (though VoH remains my favorite). Looking back, I can see the infodumps and "writing no-nos" but I still enjoy rereading them now and then.

Plains of Passage kind of lost me, though, and Shelters of Stone...I admit I only flipped through it. I thought there was going to be another one after that? Dunno if I'll look at it.

Susan Gable
11-12-2007, 01:53 AM
GoergieB -- I used to leave paper backs on benches or other places when I finished them, all the time.

Know what? These days, when you do that in an airport, they follow you and take you to a small room for a little Q & A.

Do you guys know about www.bookcrossings.com (http://www.bookcrossings.com) ? It's a tag-and-release program for books. Sort of fun to see where a book goes.

And yeah, leaving them in an airport is not such a good idea these days. :(

Susan G.

WittyandorIronic
11-12-2007, 01:54 AM
personal preference does not shite and tripe make... Fine for the last book...but the first four were very well received and loved by a lot of people.
And on the subject of personal preference, I am a reader of erotica and IMHO i don't believe that Auel's work even remotely qualifies. Sex does not equal erotica...even if it is often. lol.

Unique
11-12-2007, 01:55 AM
If that were me being ripped to shreds, I'd appreciate people's honesty. I've always been the sort of person who prefers straight-talkers than people who pussyfoot around the truth. If people think I write shite and tripe, I want to know.

Maybe we need to revisit the cruelty thread.

FTR - you write shite and tripe.

scarletpeaches
11-12-2007, 01:55 AM
Anyone would think you were trying to hurt my feelings.

Unique
11-12-2007, 01:57 AM
Not that I think Ms. Auel reads here - but how would she feel?

It wasn't her story being attacked - it was she herself and her skills. I don't know her; I probably never will but some of this thread made me feel badly on her behalf.

It takes a lot to do that.

CheshireCat
11-12-2007, 02:28 AM
It's an unfortunate truth that places like Amazon have made it easy for all sorts of "readers" with all sorts of motives to trash published writers. As someone else said, it's the Big Names and Bestsellers that tend to get the worst "reviews," and if you read them carefully, it's fairly clear that a large percentage are from aspiring writers.

If I don't like your work, whether it's one book or several, I'm not going to post a negative review on Amazon or anywhere else. Why should I? It's just my opinion, and using that opinion like a club to beat off potential readers who might have an opposing view is just not cool.

I'm a writer. I know how hard this job is. I know how many outside influences can affect what I write. I've been writing long enough to know that not only can every book not be perfect, but that some will be disappointments to me my entire career -- and there's not a damned thing I can do about it, except be dishonest and rewrite them if I get the chance, pretending the first versions never existed.

But they were written when they were written, they were the best books I could produce at the time, and I hope I learned something from them.

As for those of you who say you want the brutal, unvarnished truth about your work, good for you. I suppose that puts you one leg up on those of us who had to learn to grow an elephant hide when the criticisms started rolling in.

Hope you're still holding on to that protection when you're 71, and your supposed peers take potshots at you.

scarletpeaches
11-12-2007, 02:29 AM
Yup. I will be. But I won't have to wait another 40 years for people to take potshots.

triceretops
11-12-2007, 02:35 AM
Some interesting insights here. I do remember, it was about 1984, when first hearing about Clan, and it still had tons of press at that time. It was a first book for a first-time author, who just happened to catch the interest of the reading public with a prehistoric storyline.

At this point I'm willing to believe and, or, speculate that this last installment (SoS) was rushed at the end of a 12-year period, certainly an incredible lapse of time. Granted she went to do research in France, but not for 12 years. There has been talk of a sixth book, alas nearly six years has passed and there is no concrete evidence that it's being penned, at least that I know of. Jo Rowling, for instance, embraced the challenge of completing her series with gusto and energy, in a timely fashion and with an ear and enthusiasm for marketing. Jean seems to have fallen away from her projects, almost to the point of "series suicide."

However, I'm more than willing to lay a great percentage of the blame on her editor/editors at Crown. And even her agent, if in fact she does have one. I mean, when your drunk, a good friend, peer, associate, takes your keys away from you. If you have bad breath, you can usually count on your best friend to tell you. Toddlers get their butts spanked for playing in the street.

With the size and importance of this franchise, where in the hell were the concerned, all-knowing editors? How is it possible that this book made it through the process without anyone telling her she needed to get back to the basics of good story-telling? I dunno. With 33 million copies sold, does that grant an author such power to tell the editors to flip off?

As somebody suggested, was this a classic case of "all about the money?" And if it was, do you think the publisher believed that the fanbase was so stuck on this series that the gate-keepers just looked the other way, knowing that there would be such a fallout?

I've written to her publisher with some polite, but direct questions. I don't know if I'll get any answers. This is an integrity issue for me, and it's quite disturbing, pushing me into a 5150 mindset. It almost seems like she got away with literary murder. But who the hell was standing there watching her commit murder, while rocking back and forth on their shoes and whistling Dixie?

At what point does an editor, from a large, established house, prostrate themselves on the floor before big-time author and whine, "I'm not worthy...I'm not worthy."

Tri--going ten-seven.

Marian Perera
11-12-2007, 02:55 AM
Doesn't Anne Rice have a clause in her contracts that prohibits anyone from editing her manuscripts?

And what if an editor tells a successful, established author, "Look, this manuscript has some serious problems", and the author replies, "I know, but I'm tired of this series, so I'm not going to put any more work into it"? This is entirely hypothetical, and I'm asking because I don't know what would happen under these circumstances. Even if the contract allows the editors to bring in another writer to rewrite the manuscript, maybe there's not a whole lot they can do with what they've been given?

triceretops
11-12-2007, 03:03 AM
Please, let me reiterate. This is NOT an attack on Jean. I think her first line of defense fell down--the agent/editor faction. In fact, many of the comments point to a total lack of editing, and every one of the negative reviews are hauntingly consistent, with identical complaints. I'm embarassed for Jean when I hear conclusions that it was the worst book they've ever read.

I absolutely agree that Amazon.com makes it just too easy blast a book, and some of these reviewers have no business spouting venom. Many of them are semi-illiterate. However, this was the worst bashing I've ever seen, with long, extensive and professional reviews pin-pointing exactly what went wrong, how and why.

I'm thinking: what the fugg's up, Crown?

Tri

CheshireCat
11-12-2007, 03:06 AM
At what point does an editor, from a large, established house, prostrate themselves on the floor before big-time author and whine, "I'm not worthy...I'm not worthy."

And at what point can those of us not involved, not in the room, not absolutely certain of what happened between an author and an editor or an author and an agent, admit that we have no idea what the situation was?

I don't know where this myth of the All-Mighty Author came from, but I know a lot of Big Names and at least a couple of Huge Names, and they argue with their agents and editors just the same as I do. So I never assume that the PTB at any writer's house just stood back and meekly allowed a "bad" book to be published.


I've written to her publisher with some polite, but direct questions. I don't know if I'll get any answers. This is an integrity issue for me, and it's quite disturbing, pushing me into a 5150 mindset. It almost seems like she got away with literary murder. But who the hell was standing there watching her commit murder, while rocking back and forth on their shoes and whistling Dixie?

You know what? It's a novel. That's all. And as its author, Auel was free to make it whatever she chose to, just as her publisher was free to publish or not.

But you and me? We don't get a say. We can offer our opinion on the finished work, as so many here and elsewhere have done. We can take the book we bought back to the store and demand a refund if we feel strongly that she murdered her own literary darling and we don't like that. We can make up our minds to never again buy one of her books.

We can even write to the publisher or author if we feel we were ripped off -- or whatever it is we feel.

And what's the point? Seriously, why do you care? How on earth can whatever she did or failed to do in your eyes possibly involve your own integrity?

It's a novel.

GeorgieB
11-12-2007, 08:11 PM
Do you guys know about www.bookcrossings.com (http://www.bookcrossings.com) ? It's a tag-and-release program for books. Sort of fun to see where a book goes.

And yeah, leaving them in an airport is not such a good idea these days. :(

Susan G.


We've left several books with the Book Crossing tag in RV parks that we stayed at on our long, long trip this past year. One that my wife left in China two years ago has certainly had a well-traveled life so far.

Most of the RV parks we stayed at had a leave one, take one trading library, most with paper backs but one or two with a hard back section. We don't have a lot of spare space in the RV so trading helped with both space and the budget.

I did see a few Auel books here and there, usually in the section devoted to romance.

Shadow_Ferret
11-12-2007, 08:24 PM
I have never even heard of this author before clicking on this thread. What are some of the books she wrote?


Wait. Ha. I just googled her. I actually read Clan of the Cavebear. That's why I don't remember her...I thought that book sucked. Not my cuppa.I too have never heard her name before.

And Clan of the Cave Bear I thought was some Disneyesque kid's movie.


Do you guys know about www.bookcrossings.com ? It's a tag-and-release program for books. Sort of fun to see where a book goes.

And yeah, leaving them in an airport is not such a good idea these days.

Susan G.
Yes, I heard of book crossings. I blogged about it a while back. I think its pure evil.

virtue_summer
11-12-2007, 08:44 PM
Have you ever heard of a popular writer who didn't get bad reviews? Seriously, the same problems that Auel has in some of her books are seen in the books of a lot of other writers. Gratuitus sex scenes? A ton of writers could be accused of that. Infodumps? Just about every historical author I've read has a tendency to get enamored by their own research, just as a lot of fantasy authors get enamored by their created worlds and feel the need to tell us everything. Actually, I've read Shelters of Stone. I've also read Auels other books. In my opinion, the Clan of the Cave Bear was the best and Shelters of Stone the worst. Guess what? I've run across other authors who wrote multiple books and (gasp!) I liked some of their books and didn't like others. Even my favorite writers have each written a book or two that I wasn't crazy about. I would also ask the person who started this thread why you feel the need to trash someone whose books you haven't even read?

lkp
11-12-2007, 09:36 PM
...
I've written to her publisher with some polite, but direct questions. I don't know if I'll get any answers. This is an integrity issue for me, and it's quite disturbing, pushing me into a 5150 mindset. It almost seems like she got away with literary murder. But who the hell was standing there watching her commit murder, while rocking back and forth on their shoes and whistling Dixie?

...

Tri--going ten-seven.

Tri, let me get this straight. You haven't read Clan of the cave Bear. You haven't read Auel's latest book. In fact you haven't read any of her books. What you have read are reviews on Amazon, that bastion of objective and insightful book criticism.

And you're writing a letter to her publisher to complain about the quality of her last book. Which you have not read.

Can you explain to me how this makes sense? What am I not getting? If you do think this a more generalizable issue, shouldn't you be basing your complaint on the inferior later work of, um, someone you have read?

Tiger
11-12-2007, 10:44 PM
In the next book, Ayla will visit Australia and domesticate a kangaroo.

No. She'll make a hang glider out of woven grasses that the men of the era will corrupt into an instrument of war.

chartreuse
11-12-2007, 10:53 PM
At this point I'm willing to believe and, or, speculate that this last installment (SoS) was rushed at the end of a 12-year period, certainly an incredible lapse of time. Granted she went to do research in France, but not for 12 years. There has been talk of a sixth book, alas nearly six years has passed and there is no concrete evidence that it's being penned, at least that I know of.

I stop in occasionally at the ECfans discussion board. One of Auel's kids gives us updates periodically, and as far as I've been able to glean there is no doubt whatsoever that she is working on the next book, which, like the others, is requiring a lot of research. Basically the "official" story is that she is working on it, there is no estimated release date, and nobody will get a heads-up as to when it is coming out until it is in the publisher's hands.

I guess when your series sells as well as this one does, you can get away with that.

Marian Perera
11-13-2007, 03:15 AM
No. She'll make a hang glider out of woven grasses

That gave me a Mystery Science Theater 3000 flashback.

KTC
11-13-2007, 04:22 AM
Tri, let me get this straight. You haven't read Clan of the cave Bear. You haven't read Auel's latest book. In fact you haven't read any of her books. What you have read are reviews on Amazon, that bastion of objective and insightful book criticism.

And you're writing a letter to her publisher to complain about the quality of her last book. Which you have not read.

Can you explain to me how this makes sense? What am I not getting? If you do think this a more generalizable issue, shouldn't you be basing your complaint on the inferior later work of, um, someone you have read?

Wow. I was thinking the same exact thing, but I couldn't be bothered to type it into a thread that left me feeling extremely perplexed. I'm glad you did. I am WAY interested in hearing the answer. I read it Tri's initial post that there was no reading of said author. That was bizarre.

triceretops
11-13-2007, 04:58 AM
Gak. Very good points and I stand guilty as charged. But I'm not trashing or bashing Jean. I had my roomate order CotCB for me yesterday, and I intend to thoroughly enjoy it. My letter was very, very polite, and I asked if Jean's health was okay. From some recent photos, she does not look so bright and shiny and I wondered about it. But I did ask what their reaction was to the negative reviews. No accusations--no bashing. And that's it.

My gripe, I'm sure is with Crown. Let's put aside all of the negative reviews on Amazon and everywhere else about this book. I've never read it, so that leaves me out of the discussion loop. Now, (from anybody who HAS read this book) do you believe it should have been released to the public as it was? Do you think this book was edited in a professional manner? I mean, primarily, a good content editing. I ask this because of the severity of the negative claims.

My point and reason for asking? Other than I have a voodoo doll on my desk that has "publishing Industry" written across its forehead and I'm always poised to ram a pin into it (LOL), and putting aside sour grapes, professional jealously, and vindictiveness, I'll admit straight up that nothing craps in my yard worse that seeing a publishing company toss moral turpitude right out the window and let anything go to print because it's a sure fire money-maker.

I know, I know. That's life, Tri, buck up and shut up because it's happening all across the board every day. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it. This case just seemed to hit me harder than most. The last thing I want in my own industry is to see ethics trampled on for the sake of unbridled capitalizm. This type of behavior, if it is indeed this prevelant, is just the type of fodder that the PA naysayers (and other doom-peddlers) are spewing about the conduct of the industry in general. "Hey, man, name brands can do whatever they want", and "It's all about the dollar and nothing else." "Only celebrities get published and wield the power." That kind of attitude disturbs me. Ya just as soon take me to the tree of woe and nail me to it.

I don't know about you, but my agent blisters my ass ruthlessly for committing any and all fouls in the craft. I'm metaphorically stripped naked and told I'm fat. If I'm not up to snuff, no editor will ever get the chance to see my work. Period. Case closed. He's my first line of defense. Then if I make the grade, an editor will be the next person to slash and burn, and I'll know I have that coming, too. My presentation to the public is going to be downright spiffy, and I'll at least have most of the basics and elments correct in my prose. Otherwise, I have no business with my fat little face on the back cover of a book, sitting on shelves from sea to shining sea.

Again, I have no right to comment on a book I haven't read. But after Frey, Viswanthan, and to a lesser Paolini (didn't read the books--only the articles and news stories), I felt a disturbance in the force that was unsettling. I don't wish to see this type of trend in the industry. Ever.

Sorry if I've perplexed, confused or insulted anyone.

Tri

chartreuse
11-13-2007, 05:15 AM
Now, (from anybody who HAS read this book) do you believe it should have been released to the public as it was? Do you think this book was edited in a professional manner?I mean, primarily, a good content editing. I ask this because of the severity of the negative claims.



Not just no, but HELL NO!

Whoever had the chance to read Shelters of Stone before it went to print, be it her agent, her editor, whoever, should have sat Ms. Auel down, handed her a good stiff drink, and just told her flat out that it needed a complete rewrite.

If that meant that the book would be delayed a couple of more years, fine. If that meant hiring a ghostwriter who was familiar with the storyline, fine. To this day, although I can (as you've seen) go on at length about WHAT was wrong with Shelters of Stone, I don't have an inkling as to WHY it was that way. Some people have suggested that Auel is simply tired of the story and didn't give it her full attention. Others have suggested that it wasn't even written by her.

I have no idea why the publisher allowed the book to come out, but I can tell you that if I were the publisher, SoS would never have seen the light of day in the version it did.

CheshireCat
11-13-2007, 07:39 AM
Gak. Very good points and I stand guilty as charged. But I'm not trashing or bashing Jean. I had my roomate order CotCB for me yesterday, and I intend to thoroughly enjoy it. My letter was very, very polite, and I asked if Jean's health was okay. From some recent photos, she does not look so bright and shiny and I wondered about it. But I did ask what their reaction was to the negative reviews. No accusations--no bashing. And that's it.

Dunno if you realize it, but in these days of stalkers and such, asking such personal questions as those about an author's health or appearance are virtually guaranteed to land your letter in the Watch File. And, yes, I'm serious. It'll either go there or into the circular file. Especially if you referred to her as Jean.


My gripe, I'm sure is with Crown. Let's put aside all of the negative reviews on Amazon and everywhere else about this book. I've never read it, so that leaves me out of the discussion loop. Now, (from anybody who HAS read this book) do you believe it should have been released to the public as it was? Do you think this book was edited in a professional manner? I mean, primarily, a good content editing. I ask this because of the severity of the negative claims.

Okay. Say there are a few hundred "reviews" on Amazon raving about how bad the book is. Out of how many hundreds of thousands (or millions) of people who bought the book? What if they disagree? What if they loved the book?

I'm still wrestling with the bewildered question of why you have a "gripe" about this with anyone at all. Seriously.



My point and reason for asking? Other than I have a voodoo doll on my desk that has "publishing Industry" written across its forehead and I'm always poised to ram a pin into it (LOL), and putting aside sour grapes, professional jealously, and vindictiveness, I'll admit straight up that nothing craps in my yard worse that seeing a publishing company toss moral turpitude right out the window and let anything go to print because it's a sure fire money-maker.

And my point is that you don't know that's what happened. Even if the book is terrible (and I don't know; as I said, I read and enjoyed the first two in the series), her editor(s) may have loved it. Yes, seriously; people have their own opinions, and even if a few hundred people violently disagree, that doesn't make them right.


So you are questioning the integrity of a publisher based on the assumption that Amazon reviews were on the money, that other negative opinions were on the money -- both of which present the views of a tiny percentage of the readers who bought the book.


I know, I know. That's life, Tri, buck up and shut up because it's happening all across the board every day. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it. This case just seemed to hit me harder than most. The last thing I want in my own industry is to see ethics trampled on for the sake of unbridled capitalizm. This type of behavior, if it is indeed this prevelant, is just the type of fodder that the PA naysayers (and other doom-peddlers) are spewing about the conduct of the industry in general. "Hey, man, name brands can do whatever they want", and "It's all about the dollar and nothing else." "Only celebrities get published and wield the power." That kind of attitude disturbs me. Ya just as soon take me to the tree of woe and nail me to it.

Unbridled capitalism? Are you aware of the fact that the whole industry is run now based on the almighty profit line? Yes, you still find people in publishing who love writing and books and want to publish the best -- and most successful -- books they can. They want to earn prizes and acclaim and get movies made from the books they shepherd through the publication process.


And their bosses want to make lots of money. Because they're companies whose survival depends on the earning of profit.

All that said, you know what? Name brands pretty much can do what they want, because they've earned it. They've turned in work that has consistently topped bestseller lists and earned their publishers big bucks, and both achievements are appreciated.

So maybe Auel turned in the book and said, "Okay, I'm done with this one." And her editor at Crown read it and loved it, and sent it back with some notes -- and she revised. Maybe what everybody is trashing is a book that was edited, was revised, was a book everybody at Crown was happy with.

Or maybe she turned it in, said, "This is the book, I know it rambles and is repetitive and stuff, but it's what I want to say." (Hey, you don't know. Which is my point.) And her editor read it, and flinched a bit, but said, "You know, her loyal audience will probably love this, and she's already working on the next book and, well, she's not getting any younger and has more books we want her to write, so ... good enough."

Or maybe they knowingly published a book everyone concerned at Crown believed was horrible, because they were anxious to get another Auel book out there, and she was unwilling to revise, or because she never revises a finished book once she's begun another one, or because she's in a hurry to finish the series in her head and knows time is getting a bit short -- or whatever.

You have some choices there. Some more cynical than others. And somewhere in all that is probably the truth.

But, again, we're talking about a novel. And whether the industry routinely publishes bad books knowingly (I'd give you an argument there, except that it would end up right back where it should: one reader's lousy book is another's favorite one.) or always does their best is fairly well impossible to judge by this one book.

Tell you one thing, though. You can pretty well alienate a publisher with a holier-than-thou letter questioning their integrity.


I don't know about you, but my agent blisters my ass ruthlessly for committing any and all fouls in the craft. I'm metaphorically stripped naked and told I'm fat. If I'm not up to snuff, no editor will ever get the chance to see my work. Period. Case closed. He's my first line of defense. Then if I make the grade, an editor will be the next person to slash and burn, and I'll know I have that coming, too. My presentation to the public is going to be downright spiffy, and I'll at least have most of the basics and elments correct in my prose. Otherwise, I have no business with my fat little face on the back cover of a book, sitting on shelves from sea to shining sea.

In a perfect world, sure. Last time I checked, this world was filled with all kinds of unequal and unfair things. Your agent and editor will certainly do their best to see to it your work is all polished up and spiffy for its public presentation.

And if you had a different agent, and different editor, the polishing and spiffing would probably produce a different book.

As a matter of fact, I know it would, and you know it would -- because all this is subjective. What one agent sees as a drawback another sees as a plus. What one editor loves, another loathes. And in case you hadn't noticed, the "rules" governing all things right and proper in writing and publishing change on a regular basis and vary at any given moment from house to house.

Your debut book may well be polished and spiffed to within an inch of its little life, and then hit the market -- and earn hundreds of venomously negative "reviews" on Amazon.

Are you going to believe them? Is it going to matter to you that hundreds (out of the, we will hope, hundreds of thousand) of readers hate the work you spiffed and polished? Will you be moved to do something drastically different next time around -- because of them and because some aspiring writer sends your publisher a letter asking, basically, if you've one foot in the grave or still have all your marbles?

Or will you just keep working, because you've figured out the best methods for you, and your agent and editor are happy with what you're writing and, hey, so are you ...


Again, I have no right to comment on a book I haven't read. But after Frey, Viswanthan, and to a lesser Paolini (didn't read the books--only the articles and news stories), I felt a disturbance in the force that was unsettling. I don't wish to see this type of trend in the industry. Ever.

Sorry if I've perplexed, confused or insulted anyone.

Tri

And you're judging other writers' work by the news stories, articles, and reviews, huh?

No offense, but that pretty much undercuts your entire tirade. Because you're not even offering your judgments, only the published views and opinions of other people.

Saanen
11-13-2007, 03:39 PM
What are reviews for if not to help others judge a work before putting time and effort into reading it?

Just sayin'.

KTC
11-13-2007, 03:42 PM
What are reviews for if not to help others judge a work before putting time and effort into reading it?

Just sayin'.


There is that. But you have to go with reputable sources. We're talking Amazon here. I could go bash someone right now just for kicks. They'll leave it up and someone will come along and read my review and say, "Frack it. I'm not reading that book." Go to a reliable source for your reviews. Although...I think this particular book was kicked by everyone.

CheshireCat
11-14-2007, 06:25 AM
What are reviews for if not to help others judge a work before putting time and effort into reading it?

Just sayin'.

If you want to choose what you read according to the opinions of strangers, not knowing anything about their background, experiences, tastes, preferences, education, or personal agenda -- have at it.

Plenty do. I feel sorry for them because other people have to tell them what to read, but, hey, that's just my opinion.

Me, I depend on what I feel when I read the cover copy, or I listen to friends whose tastes and preferences I know -- or I just take a chance and try something because I've done it before and in so doing discovered absolute gems.

Discovered Dick Francis that way.

Sure, I waste some time, and I've wasted some money on books I couldn't finish. But at least I don't open a book with other people's opinions on it muttering in the back of my mind.

I'd rather form my own.

And, by the way, anybody who believes they can please all those faceless, anonymous readers out there should probably find a different creative outlet and/or vocation.

Because you won't.

Red-Green
11-15-2007, 09:36 PM
What are reviews for if not to help others judge a work before putting time and effort into reading it?

Just sayin'.

Well said, too. ;)

In fact, a particularly blistering negative review often intrigues me more than a glowing, pollyanna review. I mean, if a book made someone that mad, perhaps it's worth a peek.

triceretops
11-16-2007, 03:43 AM
The last time I checked, readers DRIVE this industry. They are the ones who pop out of the wordwork and take the time to express their views on the internet boards and review sites. They are the ones who plop down $28 bucks for a hardcover, without blinking an eye. They are the fans that determine whether or not you'll rise to the top or sink into obscurity.

I'm going to listen to them, and although I'm not ready to gulp down everything they say or feel about my book, I'm going to give them their space to express their emotions and viewpoints. I'll take that information into consideration with a cocked eyebrow--not a holy roadmap for my ultimate decision making.

And, by the way, anybody who believes they can please all those faceless, anonymous readers out there should probably find a different creative outlet and/or vocation.

Correction:

Anybody who doesn't listen to all those faceless, anonymous readers out there should probably find a different creative outlet and/or vocation. Readers are the lifespring from which writers flow. Readers are the top of the food chain in this business. The writers, the bean counters, and the editors are greatly affected by what the readers think.
:)

Tri

CheshireCat
11-16-2007, 04:52 AM
And, by the way, anybody who believes they can please all those faceless, anonymous readers out there should probably find a different creative outlet and/or vocation.

Correction:

Anybody who doesn't listen to all those faceless, anonymous readers out there should probably find a different creative outlet and/or vocation. Readers are the lifespring from which writers flow. Readers are the top of the food chain in this business. The writers, the bean counters, and the editors are greatly affected by what the readers think.
:)

Tri

You know what? You can disagree with me -- but don't "correct" me. I've been in this business a long time, and I've heard from tens of thousands of readers over the years. I read every piece of mail, on paper or courtesy of the internet. And most of the readers who write to me get a polite and friendly response.

What I said stands. You WILL NOT please every reader.

But good luck with that.

triceretops
11-16-2007, 05:07 AM
The correction was my belief only. I do whole heartily agree with you that we cannot please all of the readers. And I competely understand your point.

You seem to be very, very angry with me for sponsoring this discussion about Jean's book. I'm not here to hurt anybody's feelings or drag an author's name through the mud. And I highly respect your opinion and would never question your background.

I'll ask that this thread be closed.

Tri

CheshireCat
11-16-2007, 06:08 AM
Doesn't matter to me whether the thread is closed or continues on.

As for being angry with you -- angry is too strong a word. I said I was baffled, and I continue to be baffled, that you chose to begin a discussion about a book you had not read, your views entirely based on "reader reviews" at Amazon.

That, really, is what disturbs me. And it still does.

A bunch of readers on a forum doing that -- Yeah, sure, I see that all the time. Doesn't surprise me a bit.

But writers should know better. We should give our peers the benefit of the doubt, especially when the bulk of the "criticism" is anonymous and comes from a source like Amazon.

There's a new site, by the way, called (I believe) writersarereaders.com. Something like that. They're asking published writers to submit reviews of other writers' work. It'll be interesting to see if that idea takes off.

I can tell you one thing. The reviews aren't anonymous.

MacAllister
11-16-2007, 06:43 AM
Honestly, I don't see any reason to close the thread. I think you guys can agree to disagree, and let it go in civilized fashion.

CheshireCat
11-16-2007, 08:08 AM
I think you're right. :)

ChunkyC
11-17-2007, 04:09 AM
Let me just say that reading Valley of Horses gave me an inferiority complex. ;)

I read Clan, and Valley, and that was enough. While the historical stuff was quite intriguing, I got tired of reading about the sexual escapades of this Jondalar with the inhumanly huge shlongdalar. For that reason alone, Clan was a much better book, imo.

As for the current book, it's a shame she's getting raked over the coals. Crits of the work itself are one thing, but if peeps are attacking her as it seems some are, that's not fair at all. The most wonderful human on Earth might write the worst book in history, just as the most vile person to ever live might write a phenomenally good book. Each (book or author) should be judged on their own merits.

WittyandorIronic
11-17-2007, 04:30 PM
Soo...I noticed this same refrain elsewhere. lol. But why would I want to read about the sexual escapades with the inhumanly SMALL shlongdalar? BOR-ing! I mean...you can argue the necessity of sex (though I would disagree with you in these books, as I thought it was integral) but you really can't argue about the necessity of a large "manhood". In fiction, it really is a required character trait. lol.

ChunkyC
11-17-2007, 07:25 PM
For me, the sex in Valley seemed ridiculous, more like letters to Penthouse than a historical depiction of what the sex lives of ancient humans might have been like. Just about every sex scene was reminiscent of a 20th century fantasy. The tribe looking for a suitably endowed man to deflower one of their young virgins while the elders all look on from the shadows ... gimme a break. I saw that scenario acted out in a porn film at my brother's stag party a decade before Clan was published.

That sort of thing threw me right out of the story.

sandyn
11-17-2007, 11:25 PM
My goodness! All these words over one book. If one person could write a book that appealed to ALL readers, there would be no need for any other writer to exist.

There are all kinds of books out there that don't interest me. As for Jean Auel, I have read some of hers. They appealed to me at the time. Tastes change and that's what makes the world go round so far as reading goes, IMHO.

It's a big world out there...

Matera the Mad
03-06-2008, 06:56 AM
:roll:
I found this thread by accident, looking for something else -- with a straight-out Google, yet -- and had to take a peek. And a laugh. Some of the disgruntled members of the ECFans.com forum would love to read it.

Yeah...I enjoyed Clan of the Cave Bear, thought that the slobbering pink porn of Valley of Horses was pasted in to please someone (certainly not me!), and when the long-awaited SoS came before my jaded eyes I said WTF.

For fun I wrote a fake mini review at another fan site:

"A long and fascinating look into the customs and culture of our prehistoric ancestors. This book will satisfy the most demanding reader's hunger for detail."

I then translated it to:

"Unfocussed head-hopping ramble that would have benefitted from a little planning and some severe editing"

Appalachian Writer
03-06-2008, 07:17 AM
I read CLAN OF THE CAVEBEAR many, many years ago. I remember it as a long trudge. I even saw that horrible movie version. What I do remember (but you know how age affects writers) is that she received a three figure advance for the book which was extraordinary for the time.

Paichka
03-06-2008, 11:01 AM
:roll:

I loved this thread.

When I was a kid, I read CotCB, VoH, tMH and PoP voraciously. The Mammoth Hunters was my favorite of them.

The first time I read SoS, I was disappointed. I just didn't think it was as interesting as the others. (I thought Ayla was too perfect and Jondalar is whiny) On the second reading, I actually enjoyed it a bit more -- it's not the best of the series by any means, but it's entertaining enough for what it is. (Stephen King put it best in Bag of Bones -- the books are "sex among the cave people" epics)

To be fair, I've never read any of her books with a writer's perspective. Ever since coming to this site, I've found myself much more nitpicky about flaws in books, which is slightly frustrating. If I read them now, I might not like them as well.

I just enjoy the books the same way I read Johanna Lindsey's enslaved-woman-makes-captor-fall-in-love-while-having-kinky-bondage-sex books. Recognize the flaws, but try to enjoy the story anyway.

Uma
03-06-2008, 11:31 AM
Like many of the others here CoCB was one of the first 'grown up' books I read, and I remember summer camp sneaking around some of the dirty parts from the later books.

My personal opinion about SoS was that it showed a complete shift of interest for Jean Auel, one that took her away from the story (which was absolute drivel) and lead her to focus more on the archaeology and imagination of the period.

It's a dangerous trap, which ended up biting her in the end.

I love pre-history and really enjoyed some of the attention that she gave the detail of the environment. It was an interesting intertwining of many recorded prehistorical finds and imagination. The vision she had in SoS of prehistoric life was FAR more developed than the vision she had in CoCB.

That said, it did not a great story make, I wanted to throw Ayla off a cliff, but I was fascinated reading it.

Irysangel
03-06-2008, 07:23 PM
I just enjoy the books the same way I read Johanna Lindsey's enslaved-woman-makes-captor-fall-in-love-while-having-kinky-bondage-sex books. Recognize the flaws, but try to enjoy the story anyway.

Titles please! This sounds right up my alley. *g*

Marian Perera
03-06-2008, 07:55 PM
Prisoner of my Desire?

Paichka
03-06-2008, 09:18 PM
Prisoner of my Desire?

Prisoner of My Desire (Sexy but Strong woman serf-ified by Hunky Warlord in 11th century England)
Silver Angel (Perky British woman sold to Hunky Pasha in 1800s Near East)
Hearts Aflame (Viking Princess enslaved by Hunky Saxon in 9th century England)
Magic of You and Love Only Once (Mallory family novels) had some bondage themes also.

uhm...there's another one, I don't remember the name. It stars the Hunky Viking Brother of Kirsten Haardrad (say it out loud :D) from Hearts Aflame, who is captured in a case of mistaken identity by some Hot Saxon Babe and kept in her dungeon for awhile. He ties her up and gets his hot sexy Viking revenge on her at-first-unwilling-but-later-wanton body.

Anyway, she's used the same plot in four or five of her books. I love them all, though, so don't think I'm bagging on her. She's a wildly entertaining author.

Robin Bayne
03-06-2008, 11:02 PM
I can remember my very-uptight former MIL reading and recommending COTCB to me way back in high school----wonder if she ever picked up Valley or the others and gave them a read?:D

mscelina
03-06-2008, 11:16 PM
I've kind of stayed out of this one so far, but I think I'll chime in.

I have read (and currently own) all of Jean Auel's books. I've sort of grown up with them. I still occasionally reread them. Since the first reading of every book, I generally skip the sex scenes (something within me refuses to find cavemen sexy). But I read the rest of the book. Why, you ask?

Because her research is meticulous. No chance of wholesale lifting of ferret information here--her work is exhaustive and minute and I love it. Knowledge is always a good thing, no matter how you come by it. I read her books because the subject matter fascinates me. The first time I read CotCB, I was struck by the unusual premise of her story. Who would ever have thought of the time when the transition was ongoing in the species? Fascinating. I read her books because long ago, I grew to care about her main character. Ayla is a resourceful, intuitive character raised in one lifestyle and adapting another. And finally, because in the back of mind there's a niggling suspicion that Ayla is meant to embody the character of Eve in a lot of ways. Does anyone remember the dream where Durc and one of her nameless sons (unborn as of yet) fight each other and she's powerless to stop it? *shrug* I could be wrong, but what a thought!

In either case, despite Auel's perceived flaws as a writer, I will continue to read the Earth's Children series and will buy the next book if it ever gets done. This woman has made her series a labor of love, one that has entertained millions of people over the course of the last few decades. It is disrespectful in the extreme to discount that commitment, or her extraordinary dedication to the sheer mass of work involved, to lambast her magnum opus without restraint.

JMO, for what it's worth.

Bootz
04-09-2009, 12:39 AM
I hope it's okay to resurrect such an old thread. I recently started rereading Jean Auel's books because I remembered that they contained a lot of well researched info on paleolithic spirituality and that is a current interest of mine.

I'm just finishing CotCB. I was surprised at the POV it is written in, something I didn't notice when I first read it as a teen. I came here to see if there were any posts on it's POV and instead found this thread. Wow! such harsh criticism!

As I'm rereading the series and working from memory, I'm struck by a feeling that "good" writing and "good" storytelling might not be Jean's PRIMARY agendas. I think she is more interested in research, spirituality and feminism. CotCB is laced with a real understanding of the mindset of trauma victims and those raised in an ultraconservative patriarchal culture. I think maybe the story is just glue for something else.

Years and years of research might actually mean that Jean had to grow PERSONALLY enough to write about Ayla's growth. The research might be much DEEPER than people understand.

So much of CotCB went right over my head as a teen. I was unable to appreciate what went over my head. I'm just wondering if Jean's agenda might be going over the heads of many readers, who are obsessed with the parts of the book THEY value. Maybe Jean's value system is entirely different than that of most of her readers.

Maybe it's not about plot and characterization and POV for her. Maybe it's something deeper. Something that many don't value or even notice. She is an artist. Sometimes people aren't ready to see certain types of art yet.

Please, this isn't a slam at previous posters, or the desire to start a debate. I'm just wondering...maybe...sometimes...are we talking about apples and oranges here?

Sirion
04-09-2009, 01:37 AM
I have read some duds in my day (basically everything Terry Goodkind has ever written) books that made me practically give up all hope that there is a single author/editor/publisher on earth dedicated to anything but mediocrity - but this..this...catalog of repetitive, slogging, meandering, sixth grade writing level piece of mammoth dung is one of the absolutely WORST books I have ever not finished.

Ouch....

Ken
04-09-2009, 01:50 AM
... read Clan before I'd taken an interest in writing. So if it was poorly composed I wouldn't have even known. Just really enjoyed the story. Being transported back in time was a trip. Also dug the way the protag was so much of an outsider. Could relate.

jamiehall
04-09-2009, 07:55 AM
... read Clan before I'd taken an interest in writing. So if it was poorly composed I wouldn't have even known. Just really enjoyed the story. Being transported back in time was a trip. Also dug the way the protag was so much of an outsider. Could relate.

Most of this thread is about the negative reviews of Shelters of Stone, not the earlier books in the series, which are widely acknowledged as classics (perhaps a bit cheesy for classics, but still classics).

Matera the Mad
04-09-2009, 09:14 AM
Indeed. I enjoyed CotCB when it came out. I thought it was the best cave-fic I had ever read. That may not be saying much lol. But while I managed to keep up an interest as the series went on despite the pink porn and whatnot, I was lucky to make it through one reading of SoS. The best I can say about it is that there are a few good moments. It spoiled all the rest for me.

Ken
04-11-2009, 11:40 PM
Most of this thread is about the negative reviews of Shelters of Stone, not the earlier books in the series, which are widely acknowledged as classics (perhaps a bit cheesy for classics, but still classics).

... the keyword here is 'most.' Perhaps another read through the thread would clarify this for you, so you could see where I was coming from by saying what I have, here. Unlike the emoticon-laden, congratulatory threads in Goals and Accomplishments and Newbie forums, threads in the writing forums of AW often diverge from the OP and are none the worse for it.

aadams73
04-12-2009, 12:05 AM
I tried reading CotCB years ago and decided it was a steaming heap of crap. It was a DNF for me. *yawn*

Matera the Mad
04-12-2009, 12:43 AM
The thing about CotCB -- it was a pretty good attempt at portraying people with a very different world view. I wish more people could read it and get that out of it. But it was all downhill after Jondalar showed up with his magic penis.

blacbird
04-12-2009, 01:02 AM
Most of this thread is about the negative reviews of Shelters of Stone, not the earlier books in the series, which are widely acknowledged as classics.

By whom?

caw

Matera the Mad
04-12-2009, 01:15 AM
By whom?

caw
A nation of rabid fans. And CotCB still has an edge over almost anything preceding it in its genre.

blacbird
04-12-2009, 01:35 AM
A nation of rabid fans. And CotCB still has an edge over almost anything preceding it in its genre.

Doesn't make it a "classic" by any estimation I'm familiar with. If we start calling this a "classic" we're going to have to pile on that same shelf stuff by Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Danielle Steele, not to mention The Da Vinci Code. If these books are still in print in the 22nd Century, you may consider me incorrect.

Among novels published in my lifetime that have earned the designation of "classic", I'd cite off the top of my head:

To Kill a Mockingbird
Catch-22
Slaughterhouse-Five
Rabbit, Run
A Clockwork Orange
Wise Blood
The Mansion (Faulkner)
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Lord of the Flies
The Name of the Rose
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Among more "genre-y" writers, Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, John Le Carre have all produced work that seems to me likely to last and achieve similar distinction.

But Jean Auel? Not bloody likely.

caw

jamiehall
04-12-2009, 02:28 AM
Doesn't make it a "classic" by any estimation I'm familiar with. If we start calling this a "classic" we're going to have to pile on that same shelf stuff by Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Danielle Steele, not to mention The Da Vinci Code. If these books are still in print in the 22nd Century, you may consider me incorrect.


So, how old does a book need to be before it is considered a classic?

Edited to add:

Valley of the Dolls (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_the_Dolls) now gets assigned in college classes as a classic, so I think that means there's no barrier to cheese!

blacbird
04-12-2009, 03:04 AM
So, how old does a book need to be before it is considered a classic?

Edited to add:

Valley of the Dolls (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_the_Dolls) now gets assigned in college classes as a classic, so I think that means there's no barrier to cheese!

It's not a matter of age. There's a reason why H.G.Wells is regarded more highly as a writer than his contemporary George Allan England, Jack London more highly than his contemporary Rex Beach, Flannery O'Connor more highly than her contemporary Jacqueline Susann.

I'm not knocking "cheese", per se, nor do I denigrate the sales success of Jean Auel, or Tom Clancy, or Robert Ludlum. I read my share of facile shallow entertainers, too. But there's a reason why Garcia Marquez and Vonnegut and Bradbury are regarded more highly as writers. It has nothing to do with sales.

Regards your Wikipedia link for Valley of the Dolls, I see nothing there about it being taught "as a classic" in college lit classes, and note that the Wikipedia article "does not cite any references or sources". I don't doubt you could find some college lit course in which Dolls is part of the curriculum; you could probably find one where Jean Auel's work is used. College lit courses cover as broad a spectrum of written work as can be imagined; it doesn't mean that any novel used in such a course is automatically given recognition as a "classic", unless you define that term so broadly that it loses all meaning. As for me, I prefer to apply it to those works which have achieved a breadth and depth of recognition for qualities beyond straightforward entertainment value. If that seems a little vague, so be it. I just don't see Jean Auel's work as falling in that category.

As for Jacqueline Susann, her novel became famous in no small part because it was regarded as scandalous when it was published, and set some standards for future salacious and scandalous novels of similar stripe. So it has a kind of historical value outside its relative literary merits. Much the same can be said for Gone With the Wind or Forever Amber. Famous books, no question, and still read. But I don't put them on the same shelf with The Grapes of Wrath or The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

caw

Matera the Mad
04-12-2009, 03:26 AM
I didn't say it was a classic -- only that its rabid fans think it is ;)

Claudia Gray
04-12-2009, 04:08 AM
I'm someone who enjoyed Clan of the Cave Bear quite a lot, Valley of the Horses somewhat less so, and then didn't like the third book much at all and gave up the series. I think several of the criticisms levied at Auel in this thread are fair -- but both my enjoyment of the first two books and the powerful following she has makes me want to speak up in her defense.

The thing I keep saying about writing is, "If you get something really right, it almost doesn't matter what you do wrong." Jean Auel got several things really right with COTCB:

1) She chose a totally fresh setting.

I won't swear that there had been no other Neanderthal/Stone Age books written, but this was certainly not a setting for historical fiction that had been used very often. No doubt many people picked this the first book up off bookstore shelves simply because they'd never seen anything else like it.

2) She did her research.

The single most pleasurable part of reading COTCB was, for me, the meticulous retelling of the details of Stone Age life: how to tan a hide, or hunt a mammoth, or fling a stone from a sling. Even the more fantastic elements of the story, such as Creb's prophetic visions, had at least some root in intriguing fact (the differences between Neanderthal brains and our own). Learning more about all of this was fascinating, and it helped to make the world of the novel feel extremely absorbing and real.

3) The story took place within an interesting group of individuals.

Ayla's relationships in the first book were interestingly layered. (This fell away substantially in later books, which was one reason for my dissatisfaction, but I digress.) The parental relationships she developed, her ongoing conflicts with the clan chief, etc. -- there was a real sense of the strange internal politics of a very small group, and how Ayla's closeness to one person could create disharmony somewhere else, or how one person's social role could make it necessary for them to lay down the law to her, etc. Nor was Ayla as unrealistically perfect as she later became -- although she was precocious in the extreme, she could make unfair assumptions or sometimes be opportunistic and manipulative. So that became engrossing.

I wouldn't ever tell anyone that they shouldn't see or discuss the flaws in this book. But I think it's worth examining its virtues, too, because COTCB and the rest of the series didn't sell like they have because of those flaws. I want to learn to avoid what Auel did wrong AND to nail what she did right.

blacbird
04-12-2009, 07:19 AM
I won't swear that there had been no other Neanderthal/Stone Age books written, but this was certainly not a setting for historical fiction that had been used very often.

Two fairly major ones come to mind: The Grisly Folk, by H.G. Wells, and the truly wonderful second novel of William Golding, The Inheritors. Edgar Rice Burroughs dabbled in this pond, as well.

But, you're right, it's not been widely exploited, in the way that, say, elves and dragons and wizards and pseudomediaevality have been.

It also needs to be pointed out that anthropologists consider Auel's novels laughable, as regards their pre-history actuality. Frankly, she'd have been better off to de-emphasize that, and concentrate more on her fantasy storytelling. Which, I gather, she has failed to do in this most recent release.

caw

Matera the Mad
04-12-2009, 07:38 AM
Yeah. And as much as I liked CotCB, and even some of the rest, I knew better than to assume that the books were anything like a reference for stone-age life. My study of herbs was a bit ahead, for one thing, and I was already an experienced forager as well as widely read in anthropology and paleontology etc. etc.. I almost bit the page a few times because of plants that hung out in the wrong hemisphere.

Taking the whole Neandertal thing as a fantasy premise, it's readable. But without the Clan there's only sex and unremitting inventions. The good thing is I have a guideline for what not to do in my own prehistoric fantasy :D

ideagirl
04-12-2009, 11:38 PM
Or is this one of the biggest rip-offs in literary history? Why has it taken her over 29 years (aprox) to knock out only five, count em, five books in an award-winning series? You would think that with such success, her books would be delivered to an eager public in a timely fashion

All writers are different. Some only ever produce a single novel. Some knock out novels once a year. There's a huge range, and there's nothing wrong with producing five novels in 29 years, particularly given the huge number of writers who don't manage that. Elizabeth Kostova took over ten years to write ONE novel, The Historian. Tom Robbins produced eight novels in 32 years, though he no doubt could've made a ton of money if somehow he had produced more, since his are all best-sellers too.

I've read the first four Jean M. Auel novels. They're great, and understandably best sellers. They're not what I would call potential literary classics--she's one of those writers, like Marian Zimmer Bradley, who is a great storyteller and evoker of imaginary worlds, but not by any means a great prose stylist. But for what they are--stories and evocations of a world lost in the distant past--they're great. I would also call them great for the heroine; Ayla is in many ways a fantastic role model, which can't be said of a lot of female characters in fiction. I started reading the series when I was 13, and so I was spared the crappy YA novels a lot of my friends were reading, in which teenage girls like themselves worried about whether some guy liked them and whether their ass looked fat, etc. etc. Ayla had guts and smarts and ingenuity, and far more important things to worry about.

Also, as for the length of time it took her to write them, here's something to keep in mind: her books require an unbelievable amount of research. She interviews historians, paleontologists, anthropologists, paleobotanists and what have you. She does this so that she can recreate a world that vanished 17,000 years ago, and here is some testimony as to how well she does it: no less than Jean Clottes, one of the most famous prehistorians in the world, who has spent his career studying cave paintings and the history of Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals, put her books on the bibliography for a class of his that I took at the University of Toulouse. He said that she got all the verifiable facts absolutely right, and as for the unverifiable facts (culture, language etc.), they were absolutely plausible and consistent with the state of scientific knowledge on those topics. That's quite an accomplishment for someone who (to my knowledge) has no college degree and was a housewife and mother of five when she started the series.

I haven't read Shelters of Stone--I have it, but haven't gotten around to reading it--so I can't speak to that. But I just wanted to address your other points.

ideagirl
04-12-2009, 11:41 PM
much as I liked CotCB, and even some of the rest, I knew better than to assume that the books were anything like a reference for stone-age life. My study of herbs was a bit ahead, for one thing, and I was already an experienced forager as well as widely read in anthropology and paleontology etc. etc.. I almost bit the page a few times because of plants that hung out in the wrong hemisphere.

Are you sure the plant descriptions were wrong as of 17,000 years ago? The climate was completely different then, hence the entire field of paleobotany. Jean Clottes (http://www.archaeologychannel.org/content/Clottes.html) said she was absolutely right in her verifiable details.


It also needs to be pointed out that anthropologists consider Auel's novels laughable, as regards their pre-history actuality.

Anthropologists such as whom? For obvious reasons (see Jean Clottes references above), I take issue with that statement. The only aspect of those novels that anthropologists would be qualified to criticize are the depictions of ancient tribal cultures or (for biological anthropologists) details such as the ability of the Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals in her novels to interbreed, though the evidence, which remains debatable, points in the direction of interbreeding having been possible. And as for her depictions of ancient tribal cultures, like I said I've read the books and like I haven't said I've studied anthropology, and I can't see a thing wrong with her depictions.

I'm not here to crusade for Jean Auel's placement in the pantheon of English literature--I'm just saying, some of her achievements are worthy of respect and the accuracy of the prehistoric world she imagined is, as far as I know, one of them.

ideagirl
04-12-2009, 11:49 PM
(Deleted because I accidentally posted the same post twice)

Matera the Mad
04-13-2009, 12:44 PM
17,000 years ago? I thought it was a bit more than that. Wottever. I don't think damiana (Turnera diffusa), a tropical South/Central American shrub, grew in Eurasia then or at any time during the Ice Age. Just sayin'...


She looked at thistle next for her tea, a strengthener of the heart and breath, and good for mother's milk, but she chose damiana instead, which helped keep women's cycles in balance.TMH

The true-blue fanz have at her:
Inconsistencies (http://ecfans.com/forums/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=002901#000000)
Inconsistencies and errors (http://ecfans.com/forums/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=002029#000000)
SOS Inconsistencies v 5.3 (http://ecfans.com/forums/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=002123#000000)
Inconsistencies 3 (http://ecfans.com/forums/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=001096#000000)

ideagirl
04-19-2009, 02:27 AM
17,000 years ago? I thought it was a bit more than that. Wottever. I don't think damiana (Turnera diffusa), a tropical South/Central American shrub, grew in Eurasia then or at any time during the Ice Age. Just sayin'...

Isn't damiana (some form of it, presumably not identical to the Central/South American version) native to Africa too? So sayeth google. And that's the situation right now, with our current climate. For all I know, damiana did grow in Europe in the time when these books are set. The fact it's not native there now is meaningless; neither are wooly mammoths. Lots of things change in that amount of time.

And you're right that the story must've been set a longer time ago--given the presence of neanderthals in Europe, it couldn't be less than around 28,000 years ago.... for whatever unknown reason my brain was making Ayla a contemporary of the Lascaux cave paintings. It's been a while since I read the books.

Matera the Mad
04-19-2009, 02:58 AM
I see all the tip-of-the-googleberg references to related african plants too, but that still doesn't put a tropical or sub-tropical plant in ice-age Europe. That's like having a giant redwood pop up on the steppes.

BlueLucario
04-19-2009, 03:32 AM
Possible plot : Ayla invents the sailing ship and takes Jondalar, the Aylaspawn, the horses and the wolf on a journey to colonize the New World. Jondalar becomes seasick, but after Ayla whips up a stomach-settling tea out of seaweed and cuttlefish ink, they share Pleasures once again. And again. And again. Ayla domesticates a dolphin and rides on its back. They meet a Native American tribe which is awed by Ayla's beauty and her multiple inventions.

In the next book, Ayla will visit Australia and domesticate a kangaroo.

Did that really happen in the story?

Matera the Mad
04-19-2009, 05:42 AM
Erm...well it is slightly exaggerated. Ayla's perfection, Jodalar's...attributes and his possessive "love", and their hurricane of inventiveness get on one's nerves some days. I took it out on a sh*tload of parody fan-fic, which was very good for my writing muscles.

EFCollins
04-19-2009, 05:51 AM
I actually liked the first book... struggled through the second and by the third one, I really considered burning a book for the first time in my life. I still like CotCB, but I've never finished any of the others. The author did her research, of that I'm certain. I seem to remember that was the reason for all those delays, but the very repetitive sexual misadventures of Ayla is not the title of any of the books... but by the content, it may be more fitting for that one. (I can't seem to remember which one, though.)

ideagirl
04-19-2009, 06:56 PM
The author did her research, of that I'm certain. I seem to remember that was the reason for all those delays, but the very repetitive sexual misadventures of Ayla is not the title of any of the books... but by the content, it may be more fitting

:)

ideagirl
04-19-2009, 07:15 PM
I see all the tip-of-the-googleberg references to related african plants too, but that still doesn't put a tropical or sub-tropical plant in ice-age Europe. That's like having a giant redwood pop up on the steppes.

*shrug*
She could be wrong, or paleobotany could be weirder than you imagine. Plants evolve just as animals do, and during the last Ice Age, obviously I could be wrong on this, but there probably wasn't a tropical or sub-tropical region anywhere on earth, since the whole planet was cooler and drier. Did damiana just appear out of nowhere as soon as there were tropical climates for it to grow in? No, it probably adapted over the millennia to have the characteristics we know today. I would assume that if something in damiana makes it inherently thrive in warm, moist climates, then it (or its ancestor species) must have adapted to the cooler, drier climate in order to survive the last Ice Age, and then it evidently adapted back.

All I'm saying is that paleobotany is complicated, and what we know about plant X today doesn't necessarily translate into the facts about plant X 30,000 years ago.

Matera the Mad
04-20-2009, 05:23 AM
There were tropical areas in the ice age, and nearly all of the plants that we know today were around 30,000 years ago, except for those that had their "evolution" accelerated by human selection. Some moved northward as the climate mellowed out. Good grief. Stop making such a big deal of it--she made a mistake, let one side of the herb-lore slip, that's all. It's not a reference manual for anything, is what I'm saying.