better late than never! my new work schedule is horrible, but i have emerged from my hallucinatory wake/sleep blend to finally answer these excellent questions!
- Prior to starting this novel, had you ever thought about how hard the very act of existing was for neanderthals and early people?
sure, occasionally, when something in a book or documentary or the opening credits to amazing stories cast my mind in that direction.
- How would you manage if suddenly cast back to neanderthal times, and we had to live as they did?
well, that’s the big question, innit? because i love reading survival stuff: fiction, nonfiction, YA, post-apoc - everything from ernest shackleton to zombie aftermath. and i have picked up some survival tips along the way, but they wouldn’t all be applicable to neanderthal times - no picking through the junkyards to repurpose stuff like macgyver, no plants non-indigenous to - what, eurasia? so no tomato seeds or corn, which i am confident i can grow, and the animals? larger than what’s around now and also not at all scared of humans because at that stage they’re more likely to win in a fight against us, certainly against me, with my bad back and my impulse to be all, “wookit the cute leopard! AAAAHHHHHHH!!” on the other hand, it’s an unspoiled land. no pollution, no runoff, and that “rivers teeming with fish” scene makes me think i’d be okay living off of fish and berries and bunnies and birds. but also no global warming so i would probably freeze to death.
- Why do you believe Girl was the one banished, and not Him? Was this a fair action ordered by Big Mother?
well, the one who was allowed to stay behind would be responsible for themselves, big mother, and runt. girl is very strong, clever and resourceful and she can easily wait out the separation on her own, but him is a better choice for defense and for hunting to feed two additional people. totally fair and strategic.
- Were you previously aware of the H.G. Wells story?
- Why do you feel Rose is so protective of the dig site, and her role on the project?
well, it’s her discovery, her theory, her reputation on the line - she’s been completely invested in the dig throughout the entire process, from excavating the pieces unharmed to their preservation to interpreting the findings. she’s been living there, getting her hands dirty every day in the slowbirth of a past that fascinates her, and she doesn’t want someone less experienced who doesn’t have the same emotional connection you develop during this kind of close, delicate work coming in and jeopardizing all her hard work.
-Do you have a good feel for the relationship between Rose and Simon? What do you make of it?
they seem compatible, but their connection comes across as superficial and temporary. leading separate, independent lives can be healthy, as long as there’s some emotional depth sustaining the relationship when they’re together, and i don’t see it in these two. although going to ikea and having a crazy fight is a time-honored rite of passage for a couple. (which i just realized is from the reading to be discussed for next week, so - sorry for the huge spoiler)
- Was there a moment in this part of the reading that really stood out for you?
well, the leopard fight was pretty badass. backtracking to question #2 - that’s where i would get eaten. no doubt.
- Why do you think Girl’s chapters have numbered titles, whereas Rose’s chapters have word titles?
i can only assume it was to screw up my reading schedule for the first week of this book club. mission accomplished, claire cameron! the numbers work (in theory) for the girl chapters because she experiences the world as a series of days/ time passings and language is not her primary method for identification or expression. the titles of the rose chapters make up a series of objects, either because those are the things we would find if we were to “excavate” rose’s life, or because she herself sees the world in terms of individual objects to be classified. i’m not in love with that decision, though.
- Do you agree with Andy’s assessment that Rose is brave?
not really. she’s stubborn, proprietary, and prickly, but she’s not doing anything particularly courageous. plenty of women continue to work throughout their pregnancies, and girl fought off leopards while she was pregnant, so i would give her the award for bravery before i gave it to rose.