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The Animal Wife Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1991

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kori, a member of a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer people on the Siberian savanna, captures a woman from a neighboring tribe and finds himself at odds with her radically different language and customs. ``Light years separate Thomas's intelligent, literate fiction from most other novels set in prehistoric times,'' said PW .

Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The Animal Wife , which is set in Siberia 20,000 years ago, is a companion novel to Thomas's earlier Reindeer Moon (LJ 1/87). It depicts the life of the hunter-gatherer tribes of those plains through the story of Kori, a young male of the tribe. While out hunting, Kori captures a woman from another tribe whom he names Muskrat. Their evolving relationship and the interactions among the family tribe members as they move from their summer grounds to their winter grounds in the constant search for food form the heart of the novel. Thomas is an anthropologist who has used her experiences with the Kalahari bushmen as background. However, this works best as a work of fiction and not an anthropological study; there is much interest and humor in the male-female conflicts. This will be heavily promoted and, while not as steamy, is likely to appeal to Clan of the Cave Bear fans. --Janet Boyarin Blundell, Brookdale Community Coll., Lincroft, N.J.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Pocket (July 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671733230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671733230
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,177,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Given how high the bar had been set by Reindeer Moon, and given the mixed reviews posted here on Amazon, I took up The Animal Wife with some trepidation. I needn't have worried. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas brings to this novel the same strong voice, pacing, psychological insight, and sympathy for her characters that made Reindeer Moon such an utterly convincing portrayal of life in what is now Siberia 20,000 years ago (or thereabouts).

I wouldn't call The Animal Wife a sequel to Reindeer Moon so much as a companion novel. In many ways it is Reindeer Moon's mirror image; the tale--once again a "small" story devoid of the earth-shaking events, spiritual quests, and other "epic" devices that are the undoing of some other novels in the genre--is told from the perspective of an adolescent coming of age, this time a young man; and whereas in Reindeer Moon we absorbed the story from the perspective of a woman of Sali shaman's lineage and were introduced to Swift's people, now the story is told by Swift's son and we come to know the women of Sali's lineage as outsiders.

The tenor of the story itself is somewhat different than that of its predecessor--how could it not be?--but the somewhat simple (but not simplistic), matter-of-fact tone that characterizes the narrators of both books is much the same. In my view this tone plays a big part in making these books so successful in developing these characters as convincing representatives of human beings living so long ago. The author's mother wrote the first major ethnography of the !Kung / San bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, and Thomas has also lived among these people for several years at a stretch and has written a couple of excellent non-fiction treatments of their way of life.
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Format: Hardcover
Writing a sequel to Reindeer Moon could certainly not be an easy task, but Animal Wife does an astonishingly good job. In Reindeer Moon we were staggered by this author's excellent descriptive prose relating nature's unsympathetic brutality to those humans of prehistory. Animal wife takes it even further, recounting man's brutality to one another. While told from a male perspective as opposed to Reindeer's female perspective, the mood is less forbidding and leans more towards the self-confidence that a future leader needs to have despite the unimaginable adversity. Once again the author's characters were markedly developed and anything but primitive with their complex social structure, complete with infighting, bickering and backstabbing. The only downside of this novel is that we readers are left with the anguish of this being the author's last work of prehistory fiction.
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By A Customer on January 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a well written and entertaining book (though perhaps not as interesting as the author's other prehistoric novel, Reindeer Moon. It's quite different from some other more popular novels set in early human history, in part because Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is better able than other authors to get inside the heads of people very different from ourselves. It's not great literature, but it is certainly an interesting, engaging book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A pleasant, thoughtful book with humorous touches. The author lived with "bushmen" in south Africa as a young woman and has a real feel for what is important in cultures that live close to the land and close to living.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I first read this novel in paperback form. It is the second half of a two-book series: "Reindeer Moon" begins the series, and "The Animal Wife" continues it. The author is an anthropologist and it shows; these two books make Jean Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear" series look like an afternoon soap-opera, complete with silly commercials. Here is human nature, laid bare for all to see and it is often not a very pretty sight. Unlike Aeul's works where it often seems her protagonists are enjoying stays at prehistoric honeymoon getaways, good restaurants and fun hunts/sporting events, Thomas' protagonists are always on the edge of starvation. They are dirty, they are cold and quite often, they don't get along too well. This book gives a taste of what life in those times would really be like, and it is fascinating reading. Please bring "Reindeer Moon" to Kindle, too! People need to get Yanan's side of the story first, really.
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By Kassandra on February 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Thomas can write a book that is totally plausible. Harsh, unromantic, and heads above the rest of this genre. If you want a prehisoric love romance, don't bother. If you care about good writing, read on.
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