Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Book 34 of 2014: She Who Remembers by Linda Lay Shuler

When my Grampy died I took possession of a number of his old books, namely the Jean M. Auel Clan of the Cavebear series which I'd read the first one or two of some time before. Along with those was She Who Remembers which had a quote from Auel across the front cover. I was informed that it was reasonably similar, so I took it, stuck it on my bookcase and only got around to reading it at the tail end of August last year.

Like Auel's series of books, this is a heavily researched book set in America before it was officially 'discovered' following the fortunes of a young woman named Kwani, from the Anasazi tribe. She is the offspring of an Anasazi woman and a Viking, resulting in her having striking blue eyes and causing her tribe to fear that she is a witch. Driven away she meets Kokopelli and is accepted into a tribe to become She Who Remembers.

Right from the very beginning I was struck by how close this was in style to the Earth's Children series of books. The author obviously really knows her stuff about the various tribes and people that Kwani comes into contact with and I loved reading the descriptions of the places, rituals and day-to-day things that the people do.

The main difference between this and Earth's Children is that Linda Lay Shuler is a hell of a lot more concise with her descriptions. I couldn't help but think, while reading the action packed events of the first few chapters (as Kwani is driven away from home, meets Ute, realises she has to leave him, etc.) that these chapters probably would have been whole books if they were written by Jean Auel. The conciseness is definitely a good thing in this case!

It's a fairly hefty book. My copy is a large hardback, weighing in at four hundred pages, so it's not exactly portable. All the same I managed to finish it in under a week because I just did not want to put it down. It was one of those 'just one more chapter' books!

I think one of the things that helped in that respect was the fact that while the book revolves around Kwani's experiences, I didn't always like her behaviour. I realise that a lot of that was due to differences in culture, but it made me keep on reading to find out how the other characters would react to what she was saying and doing.

Kwani does also get through men quite a bit, there's Wopio, Ute, Kokopelli, Okalake and Tolonqua. But again, it's a different culture with different expectations of women and so I enjoyed it, especially as there were certain cultural taboos that were being broken virtually every other chapter. Kwani did make for a very compelling character.

I don't have the other books in the series, but they are available for the Kindle so I'm thinking that I might have to pick them all up in ebook format at some point (to help preserve my groaning bookshelves). The book has a fairly open ending and I'd like to know what will come next in Kwani's story.

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