The New York Times Match Book: Books New and Old for the Would-Be Time Traveler

The New York Times Match Book is like an agony aunt for avid readers. Arielle from Asheville wrote in for book recommendations. Among other books, Nicole Lamy recommended The Last Neanderthal.

Claire Cameron’s evocative novel “The Last Neanderthal” also interweaves the contemporary with the primeval. Her page turner is anchored by the story of Dr. Rose Gale, who discovers the bones belonging to a pair of bodies (a Neanderthal and a modern Homo sapiens) in a cavern in France, and whose career was inspired by H.G. Wells’s description of Neanderthals from “The Outline of History.” (Wells also wrote a piece of prehistoric fiction, “The Grisly Folk.”) The most visceral and moving chapters are those devoted to Girl, a Neanderthal cast out from “the hearth of the family.” Though Cameron signals the connection between the lives of Girl and Rose early on, the suspense lies in the way she laces together their stories.

Lamy also recommends some of my favorite books, notably The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy. I note this novel in my acknowledgments.I had quit The Last Neanderthal and was thinking of starting something new when my mom suggested I re-read The White Bone by Gowdy. Her elephants helped me find the leap of empathy I needed to make. I don't think I could have finished without it.The whole list reads like Lamy was peeping at my bookshelves. It's here - The New York Times Books.I hope Arielle from Asheville is pleased.