In 2010, a Neanderthal skeleton was found with fossilized vegetable remains in its teeth. Before that, they were considered primarily meat-eaters. It has also recently discovered that they used musical instruments, used medicine, and wore feathers as a fashion statement. Although Clan of the Cave Bear was written long before these discoveries (1980) , the author was very much ahead of her time. Much of her predictions of their human like behavior has since proven to be correct.
In my opinion the neanderthals and their society is much more interesting than the character Ayla. She isn't much of a character , actually, just a sort of symbol for the modern human and how it began. And also, apparently their superiority. In this book she is a better hunter than any of the men, and also depicted as more intelligent. When she counts to twenty the medicine man is shocked to his core. Also, nothing bad seems to happen to her. When it does, somehow it boomerangs back into being an advantage for her.
Despite some qualms, this book is simply a good story about man's earliest steps into modernity. It is very interesting in that sense, and reminded me of all the modern things i take for granted. But we also miss out on awesome things like wooly mammoths, too...sigh...
The writing is pretty good. It will keep you hooked from beginning to end, even when it is dragged down with wayyy too much detail, which ends up making the book more bloated than it needs to be.
Also, the book ends on a cliffhanger. If you want to see where (when?) Ayla ends up, I suggest you play Chrono Trigger.