The Shelters of Stone

Jean M. Auel, Author . Crown $28.95 (768p) ISBN 978-0-609-61059-6

The tiny minority of authors with the power to sell millions of novels each time out are a diverse bunch, but they share a talent for ushering readers into previously closed worlds, whether they're the top-secret inner sanctums of the American military or the ancient lands of magic. The best of them craft terrific stories that tap into universal topics, primal fears and deep-seated longings. In 1980, Auel became a member of this elite club. Her first novel, Clan of the Cave Bear, the exceptional and absorbing account of a bright Cro-Magnon girl struggling to understand the ways of the Neanderthals who adopted her, became a huge bestseller and launched the Earth's Children series, which has sold 34 million copies to date. In the next three of an intended six volumes, Ayla the Cro-Magnon girl grew up and put a pretty face on our earliest ancestors, as Auel explored the mother of all human themes: adapt or die. After the fourth bestseller, The Plains of Passage, however, 12 years elapsed, and Auel thereby added the protracted anticipation of her fans to her bestselling mix. Here at last, beautiful Ayla and her tall, gorgeous Cro-Magnon lover, Jondalar, arrive in Jondalar's Zelandonii homeland, to live with his clan in vast caves of what today is France. Travelling with a pet wolf and two horses, able to speak the strange language of the "flatheads," Ayla is once again an exotic outsider. Pregnant with Jondalar's child and as zealous in her desire to help as she is resourceful and creative as a medicine woman, Ayla soon wins the respect of the people she wishes to join. Bursting with hard information about ancient days and awash in steamy sex (though lacking the high suspense that marked Ayla's debut), Auel's latest will not only please her legions of fans but will hit the top of the list, pronto. (On sale Apr. 30)

Reviewed on: 04/08/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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