The Last Neanderthal

The Last Neanderthal

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"40,000 years in the past, the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. After a crushingly hard winter, their numbers are low, but Girl, the oldest daughter, is just coming of age and her family is determined to travel to the annual meeting place and find Girl a mate. However, through hunting accidents, animal attacks, old age, and disease, their numbers dwindle until Girl is left alone to care for Runt, a foundling of unknown origin. As Girl and Runt face starvation in the coming winter storms, Girl realizes she has one final chance to save her people, even if it means sacrificing a part of herself. In the modern day, archaeologist Rosamund Gale works well into her pregnancy, racing to excavate newly found artifacts Neanderthal before her baby comes. Linked over the millennia by their shared experience of early motherhood, both stories examine the often taboo corners of women's lives."--
Publisher: [Toronto] :, Doubleday Canada,, [2017]
ISBN: 9780385686785
Characteristics: 277 pages : genealogical table ; 24 cm


From the critics

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Sep 25, 2018

WELL worth reading. It made me stop a number of times to think about the implications of what author Cameron was saying about the ways that the Neaderthal family conducted their lives. It was so interesting the ways she had them approach daily tasks, and sniff for activity, and protect one another. I'll read this one again sometime in the future.

Jan 19, 2018

Two parallel stories of: (1) a pregnant modern day archeologist who is investigating the bones of a Neanderthal and a human buried together, and (2) these skeletons imagined as persons who lived 40,000 years ago, including a pregnant female.
I liked that the premise was based on a lovely photograph (p.273) by Dagmar Hollman which can be seen at
The book was rather pedantic, like a teaching tool for those interested in exploring Neanderthal life. I was disappointed that it ended with a series of wondering questions, rather than giving some answers about Neanderthal DNA passing on to modern humans.

Nov 29, 2017

Read this book in one day, and could not put it down! I was more engaged with the Neanderthal scenes than with the modern scenes, but still thought they all worked together.

Nov 09, 2017

Interesting and unusual book with a dual storyline: one of a Neanderthal woman struggling to survive and the other of a current day archeologist struggling with an important dig. I found it hard to put down.

Nov 02, 2017

Really loved this book, which I picked up on a lark. It was one of the selections featured at the end of the aisle in the main branch.

I liked the connection the writer was trying to make between the Neanderthal character, Girl, and the modern archaeologist, Rosamund Gale. Definitely, the more interesting character is Girl. The author created a wonderfully believable character in her. And, yes, Rosamund is not nearly as interesting.

But I love the attempt to connect the past with the present and though I did breeze through the modern day portions quickly, I still found they added to the story. I could see that it was an effort to link us now to Girl and her family.

I found it all a very compelling read.

Oct 25, 2017

This book received a fair amount of press and is nominated for the Roger's Trust Fiction award so I have to say it was a disappointment. The switching from the story in the past to the story in the present fractured the flow of the narrative. I did not engage with the story in the present; readers who skipped those chapters would enjoy the book more.

If you like this sort of thing I'd suggest "Clan of the Cave Bear".

Oct 14, 2017

Couldn't put this book down. I hope the author writes a sequel.

Oct 11, 2017

I found the story of the neanderthal family completely absorbing and I actually skipped through the modern day parallel story of Rose, who was excavating the neanderthal.

Doing so, resulted in no disconnect or loss of plot. The connection through motherhood, was not strong and I think the modern day Rose story was completely unnecessary. It could simply have been in the background at the beginning to lead in and at the end.

A quick and interesting read.

caravan Aug 04, 2017

This is an interest read of two women of different time periods connected through their shared experience of early motherhood. Of the 2 storylines, Neanderthal was my favorite.

Jul 17, 2017

Mindfulness concepts interweave storyline adding another dimension.

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