The Woman and the Ape A Novel

Peter Høeg




Trade Paperback

272 Pages



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The Woman and the Ape is the story of a unique and unforgettable couple—Madelene and Erasmus. Madelene is the wife of Adam Burden, a distinguished behavioral scientist. Erasmus—the unlikely prince—is a 300-pound ape. Brought to the Burdens' London home after escaping from animal smugglers, Erasmus is discovered to be a highly intelligent anthropoid ape, the closest thing yet to a human being. Madelene decides to save Erasmus, and between them blossoms a profound affection as deep as any human relationship. A fable for our time, The Woman and the Ape poses searching questions about the nature of love, freedom, and humanity.


Praise for The Woman and the Ape

"The Woman and the Ape has many arrestingly stylish and inventive passages and an overall brilliance of tone that shows once again the originality of Mr. Høeg's voice."—The New York Times

"Peter Hoeg has written an intelligent novel of ideas and slyly disguised it as a lighthearted comedy . . . He’s figured out how to blend his various styles into a distinctive voice that’s satiric, deadpan funny, at once warm and cool."—Brigitte Frase, Newsday

"One of the most gripping books I’ve read in years. It moved me so deeply that by the end I found myself weeping."—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Village Voice Literary Supplement

"No imaginative writer working today is any more daring than Danish novelist Peter Høeg . . . An utterly original mix of fantasy, fable, myth, and love story."—Booklist (starred review)

"From Smilla's Sense of Snow to Borderliners to A History of Danish Dreams, Danish novelist Hoeg has maintained a sharp sense of social critique that, refreshingly, is not wittily dismissive but earnest without being heavy-handed. And what better way to show up human heartlessness and pretension, particularly of the ruling classes, than in our treatment of animals? In this swift-paced, lacerating new work, an ape brought illegally to England ends up at the home of Madelene, a Danish woman married to Adam Burden, director of the Institute of Animal Behavioral Research. Madelene is young, fresh, and deeply alcoholic, but through the glassy haze that Hoeg describes so effectively—from the inside out, not simply for dramatic effect but almost as an aesthetic experience, like being in a crystal cage—she can tell the ape is in danger. Madelene sets out to rescue the ape from her coldly calculating husband and his even more frigid sister and, in the process, rescues herself. That is the only predictable aspect of this thought-provoking work, which is too fresh in its writing and its perceptions to fall into the sentimentality one might expect. An air of freedom surrounds Madelene's eventual abduction by the ape, and though their sexual involvement may seem over the top to some readers, you can't help but be carried along by Hoeg's convictions. Don't think King Kong; this is much subtler. Highly recommended."Library Journal

"It's in the realm of ideas that [Hoeg] excels. There are long passages in which he analyzes Erasmus and human emotions and London itself in terms that are by turns mechanistic and organic. On one page, London is a 'gigantic mycelium,' a fungus. On a later page, we discover that London is a 'worn-out machine, full of blind spots and flat points.' At the end of this fine and diverting novel, Madelene explains how she's always pictured angels, and her definition could as easily stand for Erasmus or London or even the Earth. 'It's one third god, one third animal, and one third human.'"Publishers Weekly

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Peter Høeg, born in 1957 in Denmark, followed various callings--dancer, actor, sailor, fencer, and mountaineer--before turning seriously to writing. He is the bestselling author of five novels and one short story collection. His work has been published in thirty-three countries.
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  • Peter Høeg

  • Peter Høeg is the author of the international bestselling novel Smilla's Sense of Snow. Born in 1957 in Denmark, he followed various callings—dancer, actor, sailor, fencer, and mountaineer—before turning seriously to writing. His work has been published in thirty-three countries.

  • Peter Høeg Copyright Ulla Montan