Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A prehistoric weekend

Avebury, but not as it was on Sunday
Well, Wiltshire turned out to be not so sunny after all, so my plan to read in the garden didn’t quite work out.  Never mind, it was a very nice weekend, and on Sunday we braved the drizzle to walk around Avebury

For anyone who doesn’t know it, Avebury is a village set in the middle of a massive circle of megalithic stones that are even older than Stonehenge.  The stones aren’t as big as at Stonehenge, but it is still an amazingly impressive monument, and it’s impossible not to be moved by the sheer size and scale of it.  Here I am sitting on the Witch’s Seat (oh, ho,ho,ho) in my summer garb …

We also went to Silbury Hill and the West Kennet long barrow, in keeping with the prehistoric theme of the weekend, so although the sun didn’t shine, it was still really interesting. I’d love to know more about that period.  One of my favourite books is Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel, the first and still the best of her Earth’s Children series.  No one else has made that world so vivid, and I loved the fact that the story was based on real excavations and her own research into cooking, weaving, flint knapping etc.  

Having bought all the later books,  I was delighted to see that she has a new one out – The Land of Painted Caves - but made the mistake of reading the reviews on Amazon before I ordered it.  Generally I don’t take much notice of reviews, as everyone’s tastes differ, but in this case they were so overwhelmingly negative that I decided to save myself the disappointment.   Finding an author you really enjoy is one of the best things in life, I think, and whenever I do, I can’t wait to read my way through their backlist.  It takes a lot to lose my loyalty as a reader, and I can’t help feeling a little guilty for not making up my own mind.  And perhaps I will – just with the paperback version!

Do you read reviews?  Do they influence what you do and don’t buy?  


  1. I don't tend to read reviews as I read as a writer so like to review books myself. I love Silbury and West Kennet. Have you read 'The Buried Circle' by Jenni Mills it is based in Avebury - a bit scarier than my normal read, but well written. Do you find it hard to cope with reviews of your books sometimes as an author? Mx

  2. I've made a note of that book, Morton - thank you! I like books set in places I know.

    As for reviews, yes, it's hard not to feel defensive sometimes. I tend to brush aside all the really nice things a review says and focus instantly on any comment which might be the slightest bit negative - and then get cross instead of realising that it is one reader's opinion to which she is perfectly entitled. So much of a reader's response is subjective anyway that it's really stupid to be bothered by it - not that it stops me! I did feel very sorry for Jean Auel reading the avalanche of bad Amazon reviews, I must say, and wondered what kind of pressure she'd be under to produce the book at all.

  3. Hi Jessica, thanks for the lesson in history *witches seat?* and for sharing the photos!

    I'd better not say much on reviews but it does help people to decide in buying books by reading the reviews first!