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The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron Review

Title: The Last Neanderthal

Author: Claire Cameron

First published April 1, 2017

288 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780316314480 (ISBN10: 031631448X)

Rating: 3.64


The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron takes you on an emotional journey through time. Follow the story of Girl, the oldest daughter of the last family of Neanderthals as she navigates the unforgiving landscape to find a mate.

But when tragedy strikes and she is left alone to care for a foundling, she must make a decision that could save her people at great personal cost. In the present day, archaeologist Rosamund Gale is racing against time to excavate newly found Neanderthal artifacts before her baby arrives.

As both women experience the trials and tribulations of early motherhood, their stories are linked across the ages by the shared experience of birth and the discovery that many modern humans have inherited DNA from Neanderthals. The Last Neanderthal is a poignant and thought-provoking novel that explores the often taboo corners of women’s lives.

About the Author

Did you know that I have a bit of Neanderthal in me? Apparently, according to the 23 and Me DNA test, I’m 2.5% Neanderthal.

And, if you ever happen to catch me smiling, you might notice my gold tooth. Oh, and by the way, I’m also the author of The Last Neanderthal (April 2017), The Bear, and The Line Painter.

Editoral Review

In “The Last Neanderthal,” author Claire Cameron takes readers on a gripping journey through time and space, exploring the lives of two women who lived tens of thousands of years apart. Although vastly different, their stories are connected in ways that transcend the boundaries of time and species.

Published in 2017, “The Last Neanderthal” is a work of historical fiction that blends elements of adventure, survival, and personal discovery. Cameron’s writing style is evocative and lyrical, bringing to life the sights, sounds, and smells of the distant past.

Her characters, meanwhile, are complex and compelling, grappling with existential questions and deep-seated emotions. The book opens with a harrowing scene in which a Neanderthal woman named Girl is forced to give birth alone, in the midst of a harsh winter.

Through Girl’s perspective, Cameron immerses the reader in the stark realities of life in a prehistoric world, where danger lurks around every corner and survival is anything but guaranteed. As Girl struggles to keep herself and her newborn alive, we are introduced to Rose, a modern-day archaeologist who becomes obsessed with unraveling the mystery of the Neanderthal people.

Rose’s character is driven by a deep sense of purpose and a desire to understand the past, even as she navigates the complexities of her own personal relationships. Throughout the book, Cameron expertly weaves together the stories of Girl and Rose, drawing parallels and contrasts between their lives.

At its core, “The Last Neanderthal” is a meditation on what it means to be human – and the many ways in which we are connected, even across vast expanses of time and space. Cameron’s writing is a true strength of the book, with her rich descriptions and vivid imagery bringing the world of the Neanderthals to life in a way that is both authentic and accessible.

She also skillfully captures the inner worlds of her characters, delving into their thoughts and emotions with a sensitivity that is both poignant and relatable. While the plot can be slow-moving at times, this is ultimately a minor quibble in the face of the book’s many strengths.

“The Last Neanderthal” is a deeply engaging and thought-provoking work of historical fiction. It is also a timely reminder of the importance of understanding our shared human past, and how it can inform the choices we make in the present.

For fans of historical fiction, survival stories, or simply excellent writing, “The Last Neanderthal” is not to be missed. It is a beautifully crafted and resonant work that will linger in the reader’s mind long after the final page has been turned.

4.5/5 stars.