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The Animal Wife

(Reindeer Moon #2)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's first novel, an international best seller, drew praise of the highest kind. "[Reindeer Moon] deserves a place of distinction, right at the head of the line, of the great series of 'historical' novels," wrote the late Joseph Campbell. It was published in fourteen languages and won a Hemingway Award Citation.

The Animal Wife may well rank by its side, for this"[Reindeer
Published (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 – 4 stars

Society, whether based on the family, the tribe, or even the nation, is a basic element of what makes us human. It is something that provides numerous advantages as the many can often accomplish tasks that the few would find impossible, not to mention the benefits of mutual support and community that society can provide. Nonetheless this human trait of grouping ourselves together has also led to many of the basic evils inherent in our nature and perhaps the greatest of t
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The Animal Wife isn't so much a sequel to Reindeer Moon (the last book I read, reviewed here), it's a companion book. It's set in the same place and deals with the same group of people. The only difference is that it's set a couple years later and that it's told from a boy's POV instead of a girl's.

Turns out the gender of the character makes a big, big difference in how much I enjoyed the story. Set in prehistoric times (Siberia, roughly 20,000 years ago), of course women had few to
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This review applies to both, Reindeer Moon and The Animal Wife by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. First, I have to say that as much as I love Jean Auel's "Earth's Children" series, these two novels are simply the very best fictional accounts of prehistoric life on the steppe-tundra of the Altai region of Siberia during the late-Upper Paleolithic, i.e., about 20,000 years ago. The characters in Thomas's books are anatomically modern humans, i.e., Homo sapiens, and based upon the lifestyles of the characters in the tw ...more
C.P. Lesley
Well told version of the ancient legend about the animal wife, captured against her will by an almost deliberately obtuse hunter and held until she manages to escape him and flee back to her ancestral home/original form. This version takes too long to get started: the animal wife doesn't appear until almost 40% through. Then it picks up the pace. And while historically accurate, it reveals how focused our predecessors probably were on killing and general brutality. The characters are believable ...more
Erin Moore
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas writes with such authority and such power about a way of life that most of us now no longer know, or have any way of knowing, as the last of the hunter-gatherers and those peoples who still follow "The Old Ways" are almost gone.

Her experiences with people who still revere nature, without converting it into a god (or God), but allowing nature to be simply what it is. She infuses her novels with this sense of what we would term religion, but is more of an "is-ness" than
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fic-historical
Life without grocery stores. Without stoves or microwaves. Without refrigerators, preservatives, or soap. Much of the day was spent in hunting and gathering food -- in looking for animal sign, in predicting where the animals were most likely to be found, and in protecting the edible parts (most everything) from other forms of prey.

And then there's the problem of finding drinking water and having shelter, both of which are also basic needs that must be addressed if people are to survi
Kelly Miess
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is harder to review than its companion, Reindeer Moon, which I read immediately prior. It is every bit as engaging, but I found it much harder to read. The main character, Kori was, to me, a MUCH less sympathetic character than Yanan of Reindeer Moon. The grave sin he commits is not just committed in his one act of abduction, but Kori continues to transgress against the woman he claims, and claims to love with his compete lack of understanding or empathy for her or her people. His acti ...more
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I so loved this book - along with Reindeer Moon - these are two of my very favorite books. I could not wait to finish - to see how it would end - as I read it so many years ago, I could not remember, but now I am so sad to have it ended. I want to keep reading. I just got her new book for my birthday - a memoir and I will be very anxious to start that. What a wonderful author!!! Loved this book.
Dean McIntyre
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On my scale that rates how much I enjoyed reading a book, THE ANIMAL WIFE by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas gets five stars. Historical fiction is usually a work of fiction placed within an identifiable and perhaps familiar frame of time and place. This work, however, takes place in a pre-civiization, pre-literate, pre-history. It is the sweeping tale of a group of hunter-gatherers, men, women, and children in their own structured society who all experience the full range of human emotions and experi ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was terrible I could only get through half and skimmed the rest. I've read other books similar and had much more respect for them than this one and it's prequel. Characters are not interesting at all.I don't know what was in these books that earned anything above three stars??? It was so repetitive.
Susan Santangelo
Just okay...

I like reading novels set in this prehistoric time period, and this one seemed well researched, but it did not measure up to books in “ The Clan of the Cave Bear” series. I was not particularly fond of the narrator, and some of the other characters seemed wooden.
Carla Ward
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it, definitely for the Clan of the Cave Bear crowd from the 90's. Hard to find. Get both Reindeer Moon and Animal Wife from Amazon together and read them in order so its easier to follow
Judy Wiersma
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good story. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
I get that you have to be realistic of the time and culture.. But Seriously!!! Sigh...
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't help comparing this book with "Reindeer Moon" which is Ms. Marshall's first book about the same territory at the same time where often the same people cross over into each book. I have to say, first, that Ms. M remains a genius at her ability to describe the world her characters live in. I also liked that this book is balanced against "Reindeer Moon" in the sense that it is told by a young man (Kori).

His views of male life seem in many ways to be true. That is, the sense of camaraderie
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent! Both The Reindeer Moon and The Animal Wife sweep the reader away into a far away time, when we were just another animal species. One can almost smell the flora and fauna these ancient people are part of.

This volume imagines the world of migratory hunter-gatherers from Kori's point of view. It is the story of Kori, a young male, and his coming of age. Harsh lessons come to him in the end as his theft of a young woman from an alien people plays itself out. Revenge. Loss. Tragedy.
Dave Belden
Sep 08, 2008 rated it liked it
A good read, but I read it right after a fascinating book 'The Fall' by Steve Taylor, which argued that early hunter gatherer societies were more egalitarian and less male-dominated and status-oriented than the society she portrays. The women seem quite under the thumb of the men here: hunters rule (even though male rule is much milder than it became in the ages of empires and warmongers). She says hers is based on the San (Bushmen) of the Kalahari, though relocated to prehistoric Siberia. But h ...more
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I can't quite decide if I liked this book or not, but it was definitely interesting. Prehistorical from (I think?) the same period as Clan of the Cave Bear, with a quite similar view of the culture (which makes me wonder how much is accepted scientific fact and how much is just influences by the earlier book.) Makes me wonder if people really were that harsh back then, or if we just like to think they were less "human" than we are now because it makes us feel better.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
enjoyable novel, a bunch of anthropology and imagination put together into a story about a young man coming of age in prehistoric times. Wait... how can something that be 'prehistoric'? Well, I guess there are few records of that time, but it was a part of history, was it not?
I enjoyed this novel and it took me to far away and long ago and surprisingly coincided with my life while reading it and gave me a new, earthy perspective.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the third book I have read by this author. The first being Reindeer Moon, which was many years ago. I really enjoyed that book. This book was not bad but did not measure up to the Reindeer Moon in my mind. I did get better toward the end, and the very last few pages, entitled sources and acknowlegdgments explained things very well.
May 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ooooh, I hated it. I didn't expect it from the reviews I read, but what I came away with from the first few pages, beyond which I could not force myself, was anachronism. Should have copied out an example, I know. But I pitched the silly thing. Should count for something.
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this at least 20 years ago, just before jean Auel hit. I was a big fan of the prehistorical fiction genre at the time. But I still remember passages from this one. I might read it again. If I can find it.
Jean Cable
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Good read but Kori was really clueless
Apr 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Loved the book until the last chapter. It was so great I couldn't put it down. Then, I read the last chapter and it was kind of like....hurry and end we need to get this published.
Michaell Baumler
Aug 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book at all gave away
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
looking into prehistoric culture and times, and the prejudice of man kind
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it
about primitive life. Interesting. Food, hides, everything divided up by lineage--which woman you were related to.
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
She is thought to be less than human, she does not speak their language, she does not know their customs, but she teaches them more of what they are, and who they are.
3.5* Somehow not as good as the first, but still enjoyable. The misogyny could be a bit hard to take.
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
A good companion to and as good as Reindeer Moon.
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Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is the author of The Harmless People, a non fiction work about the Kung Bushmen of southwestern Africa, and of Reindeer Moon, a novel about the paleolithic hunter gatherers of Siberia, both of which were tremendous international successes. She lives in New Hampshire.

Other books in the series

Reindeer Moon (2 books)
  • Reindeer Moon (Reindeer Moon, #1)