A natural disaster has left young Ayla alone, wandering, fending for herself in an unfamiliar land. One day, she is discovered by the Clan of the Cave bear, men and women far different from her own people. Tall, blond, blue-eyed Ayla is a mysterious stranger to the Clan and at first they mistrust her and cast her out. But as she grows to know them and to learn the ways of the Clan, she is welcomed. And as she leads them in their struggle for survival, the Clan come to worship Ayla. For in her blood flows the future of humanity.
from the dustjacket of the Crown first edition:
At the dawn of civilization over 35,000 years ago
it is possible that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man lived at the same time.
Here is a saga of a people who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear; how they lived; the animals they hunted; the great totems they revered. But mostly it is the story of Ayla, the girl they found and raised, who was not like them. To the Clan, her fair looks make her different ugly. And she has odd ways: she laughs, she cries, she has the ability to speak. But even more, she struggles to be true to herself and, with her advanced intelligence, is curious about the world around her. Although Ayla is clearly a member of the Others, she is nurtured by her adoptive parents, befriended by members of the Clan, and gradually accepted into the family circle. But there are those who would cast her out for her strange, threatening ways.
So the conflict between the ancient Clan, bound by heredity to its traditions, and the girl in its midst, of a newer breed destined to alter the face of the earth, could never be resolved. And it is this same struggle that leads Ayla to venture where no Clan woman has ever before dared. Driven by destiny and the will to survive, Ayla breaks the forbidden taboo....
With its exquisite detail of a world that truly might have been, The Clan of the Cave Bear is filled with awesome mystery and magic and infused with the drama of human survival. For it is a remarkable epic of one woman's odyssey in that crucial moment of evolution when two races, locked in a death grip, battle for their very existence.
JEAN M. AUEL began researching The Clan of the Cave Bear in 1977. In addition to spending many hours in the library studying the Ice Age, she joined a survival class to learn how to construct an ice cave and how it feels to live in one. She learned how to make arrowheads from a man in La Grande, Oregon. Before that, she had worked at temporary and part-time clerical jobs, been a circuit board designer and a technical writer, and earned her M.B.A. Born and raised in Chicago, Mrs. Auel met her husband, Ray, at the age of eighteen and was the mother of five children before she was twenty-five. She now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon, where she is at work on the second novel in the Earth's Children series.