ERB Book Reviews

ERB Book Reviews

Edgar Rice Burroughs book reviews from fans like you.

THE CAVE GIRL

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Reviewed by: David Bruce Bozarth 1999-04-10

This one is a hoot! Edgar Rice Burroughs blends a zany mix of humor, romance, and adventure to create one of the most enduring tales written by the author of Tarzan of the Apes. This is no Tarzan tale though we have Jungles and Savages and Primitive Life that are every bit as dangerous as the settings in Ed Burroughs' African novels.

There's been a storm at sea and poor, emaciated Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones, a Boston intellectual with a slight frame and hacking cough, has been washed overboard. Washed up on the beach of a place unknown (we later learn it is an island) young Waldo is abjectly terrified of every sound and shadow. He subsists on the beach for three days, too afraid to enter the jungle, but his growing paranoia eventually take hold. He runs screaming into the thick foliage chasing that THING which has been watching him. By the time the fit of madness has passed Waldo is deep within the interior of the island. Upon waking the next day the madness of panic has passed. He takes a stick to knock down fruits, very pleased to have learned how to do this! Waldo, you see, is a book snob, an intellectual, and--worse--a momma's boy.

Our pathetic hero stumbles about and eventually stumbles upon a band of savage barbarians. Fleeing for all his knobby long legs are worth, Waldo scales a cliff, reaches a ledge, then turns to meet his fate because for him, it seems, all optinos have been exhausted. But fate, in the form of a naked savage girl, a pretty one, who is also hiding on the ledge, inspires Waldo to defend himself. It does not take long for Waldo to discover the effectiveness of his club, or to take instant advantage of the's mimed suggestion he throw stones upon their attackers. The beast men soon withdraw and, for Waldo, his life takes a new turn.

Nadara takes Waldo in hand, teaching him the jungle and food gathering and providing companionship our lost soul desperately needs, but when he discovers that the girl hopes Thandar (her name for Waldo--means "Brave One") will slay the evil brute in her village who wants to take her as mate, our Boston-bred Milquetoast chickens out.

Deserting Nadara near the girl's village, Waldo retreats to the island's mountainous interior, full of shame and remorse. When he is attacked by a panther, and survives, THEN the real transformation of Waldo Emmerson Smith-Jones begins.

The Cave Girl initially appeared in 1913 in two parts and is one of the most fanciful and entertaining novels ever penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs. We have adventure and romance, naturally, and have the added pleasure of exploring the human psyche as a whimp becomes a he-man. The story has savages and pirates and twists of plot in abundance. There are cliff-hangers and zingers and coincidences extraordinary. The book reads a mile-a-minute, fast-paced and excellently presented. ERB was in top form with The Cave Girl and should be considered a "must read" on any reader's list.