I read The Valley of Horses, by Jean M. Auel, as travel reading (in case you are wondering why I didn’t post for a month, I was on vacation and traveling for much of November). It is the sequel to The Clan of the Cave Bear, which you may remember I found rather unbelievable in parts. The Valley of Horses mentioned the unbelievable aspects only briefly in a few places, so I did not have to set aside my skepticism quite as much. In this story, Ayla, the girl who was adopted by the Clan people, lives on her own for three years, during which time the man she is destined to meet, Jondalar, is traveling closer and closer to her on his Journey. I knew that the two were supposed to meet at some point in the book, and I didn’t realize that it wouldn’t occur until over halfway through the story. Thus, I found myself eagerly waiting for the meeting to take place for much of the novel. If I hadn’t been awaiting this major event, I would have enjoyed the parts about Ayla living on her own the most. In fact, for me, the most engaging aspect of the entire book was the way in which she raises a foal and thus domesticates a horse, in the process discovering ways the horse can help her survive, including learning to ride it. I also enjoyed the meeting between Ayla and Jondalar (which I was so eagerly anticipating) and the way in which Jondalar gradually overcomes his preconceptions about the Clan people. I have read some other reviews which suggest that aspects of their relationship are rather unrealistic, and in retrospect that is probably true, but I did not really think about that as I was reading. I can still enjoy a story even if it does not reflect exactly the way things usually happen in real life. Similarly (and despite the fact that every biography of Auel mentions how she does extensive research into prehistoric times in order to write her books), I take the accuracy of her depictions of the historical setting lightly. No doubt she starts with statements and descriptions by archeologists and anthropologists, but since it is fiction she necessarily embellishes on those “facts” (not to mention, that what one anthropolgist says may be disputed by another anthropologist). In the end, the book is fiction and light reading, and that is what I take it as.