Re: Book Review - Reindeer Moon, The Animal Wife (paleolithic fiction)

Stephen Barnard (
Sun, 18 Aug 1996 16:12:26 -0800

Danny Yee wrote:
> by: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
> subjects: ethnographic fiction
> title: Reindeer Moon
> publisher: Houghton Mifflin 1987
> other: 338 pages
> title: The Animal Wife
> publisher: HarperCollins 1991
> other: 384 pages, A$10.95
> _Reindeer Moon_ and _The Animal Wife_ are coming of age stories set in
> Siberia during the Paleolithic. In _Reindeer Moon_ Yanan, a headstrong
> young girl, survives alone with her younger sister when their parents
> die, then faces marriage, childbirth, and the struggle for position and
> status within her group. In _The Animal Wife_ a young man named Kori
> leaves his mother to join his father's group and begins to learn the
> skills of hunting and dealing with women -- until his abduction of a
> foreign woman disrupts their lives.

I've read Reindeer Moon and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It succeeds
magificently as art, as well as being a plausible, hard-hitting
depiction of what Paleolithic life may have been like. The shamanism
imagery is poetic, not intended to be taken literally, I suppose. Even
though I'm a skeptic, I found it to be one of the most moving elements
of the book.

Steve Barnard