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The Caves of Perigord


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Adult/High School-Three intertwined stories, stretching from prehistory to the present, center on a rock painting of a menacing bull and draw readers into a mystery buried near the 17,000-year-old caves of Lascaux in southwestern France. Manners, who inherited the fragment from his father, a British army officer helping the French resistance, brings it to Lydia Dean, an expert in prehistoric art in a London auction house. She has it photographed, and circulates the pictures to select colleagues; but before its provenance can be established, the object is stolen. Trying to find out who took it, from what cave it originated, and how Manners's father got it, Dean and Manners journey to the remote caves of the Prigord, and their mutual attraction blossoms. The stories of the creation of the painting; of unlikely allies trying to slow a German panzer division in its effort to reach Normandy; and of present-day interests seeking to acquire and display the stone, deemed a national treasure by the president of France, all make for compelling reading. It's unfortunate that there's no map of the region; nevertheless, following these stories challenges, captivates, and educates teens about the art world, the French resistance effort, and prehistoric cave painting.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

The discovery of a fragment of a prehistoric cave painting stirs up old passions in modern Europe in this busy, fact-driven fourth novel by commentator and journalist Walker (America Reborn). When Maj. Philip Manners approaches auction house expert Lydia Dean about an object inherited from his father, he expects merely to turn a quick profit. But Lydia is alarmed: the fragment appears to be from an uncharted French cave and was probably obtained illegally. It is stolen from the auction house, prompting an intense reaction from French President Franois Malrand. Having set up the theft as an elaborate McGuffin, Walker then shifts to the "Vzere Valley, approximately 15,000 B.C.," and the story of how young cave-dwellers Little Moon and Keeper of the Deer fall tragically in love and defy authorities by painting with unprecedented realism. The story leaps ahead to 1944 France, to describe how Malrand, aided by Manners's father, Jack, and an uncouth American named McPhee trained the French Resistance to fight the Germans and in the process stumbled upon the cave. The shifts from story to story make for a neat gimmick but an awkward package: despite the link of the fragment, the three stories often get in each other's way. Though much of the detail is fascinating, Walker devotes more energy to describing WWII technology and warfare than to developing the characters. In the end, it's the cave painting that is most vivid here. Agent, Ron Goldfarb of Goldfarb & Grayhill. (Mar. 12) Forecast: With several books (both fiction and non) and frequent appearances on CNN and NPR under his belt, Walker's name alone ensures respectable sales. The cover a cave drawing emblazoned with a red swastika will catch browsers' eyes. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Nelson DeMille A truly original and well-done story. "The Caves of Perigord" is a wonderfully fresh and fascinating tale of suspense, romance, history, and prehistory reminiscent of James Michener and Jean Auel.

Martin Walker thinks deep, writes well, and delivers the goods; a journey from the present to the past that's well worth taking.

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