EPS Review #90 - The Gift of Stones

The Gift of Stones by Jim Crace, Penguin 2003 (1988)

Who else remembers the Time/Life Science and Nature libraries? I have met a few people over the years who found them as formative as I did. Were you to bring up flint-knapping, I would remember the Early Man book and its modern recreation of those beautiful leaves and arrowheads. There are no flints in New England -- a source of childhood frustration, but there are only too many in Old England. My garden is full of them; the beaches are made of them; and I cannot pass several buildings in Radlett without Fred and Wilma singing their jingle in my head. It got so that I wondered just what flint really is, and did a web search to find that it is cryptocrystalline chalcedonic silica, probably of organic origin (hence the black carbon). Once on a beach our friend Lucy found a flint with a fossil sand-dollar in it. I still admire it when I visit her loo.

Another neighbor recommended Jim Crace, and I did enjoy this book about the end of the stone age and the coming of bronze. Not a lot really happens: a boy loses an arm to raiders, a town knaps flint, the boy travels to the next outpost of humanity, where he finds a woman with a child. The boy becomes the village storyteller, and a sort of father to the child, and not a lover to the mother. There is a fine sense of the isolation that must have obtained during the time: just an occasional glimpse of a sail, or a raid by horsemen. And I always love survival literature, so eating samphire and geese holds my interest.

I have not read the Jean M Auel books. P says the best bit is when they discover the female orgasm.

Unsurprisingly, the web is full of knappers. You can even make a beer-bottle arrowhead.

Tom wrote: I remember the Time/Life libraries. You might enjoy the David Attenborough documentaries The First Eden and "The Birth of Europe."

I wrote: The books or the TV shows?

Tom wrote: The TV shows.

Clive wrote: I think I will buy this book. Sounds good.