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The Woman and the Ape: A Novel

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,628 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
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 thin ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published January 15th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,313)
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Apr 16, 2008 Josh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you approach this book as a kind of essay on the topic of animals and London (in terms of how many animals are either consumed in London as food or maintained there as pets, zoological spectacles and research objects), you will find a lot to like in this book. If you approach it as an essay on the relation of the animal world to civilized humanity, you will find perhaps less to like, but at least the outlines of a very complicated problem: should the civilized world impose some kind of limit ...more
Jun 20, 2009 Sun rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookaweek2009
An ape arrives in London on a boat. Adam Burden, respected behavioural scientist, has it hidden on the grounds of his house. His wife Madelene, is a Danish alcoholic. Somehow the author and his PR believe this makes for not only a story, but a parable.

While admiring author Peter Hoeg's understanding of science, especially biology and neuroscience, and his surprising dry humour, I was ready to go where the author wanted to take me. But I had to get off at the point where the beautiful but not qu
Ket Lamb
The Woman and the Ape is about a wealthy, alcoholic housewife, Madelene, who reassess her life when an unusual ape offers her a peach. Peter Hoeg's incisive observations about class, wealth, power, freedom, civilization and beauty, keep this easily readable, animal-rights themed novel, intriguing. Madelene's annoying but unpredictable behavior adds surprising twists to what's bound to happen. You won't go bananas over the book, but the provocative ideas are rife for discussion, even if Hoeg's ta ...more
Nov 17, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this insightful parable about man and animals, free will and destiny, science and humanism. The main character is an alcoholic housewife, Madalene, married well, who runs away with an anthropoid ape (he talks) named Erasmus.

Peter Hoeg is the same guy who wrote Smilla's Sense of Snow, which I liked a lot, but this is much, much better.
Jayne Charles
I fear I am not intelligent enough to draw the maximum from this book. I was at least halfway through before I could stop using the synopsis as a road map to remind myself what was going on. The prose is dense and highly intelligent but much of its message was lost on me. All I took from the first hundred or so pages was that a form of alcohol exists which you can drink and not end up incoherent and embarrassing and find yourself waking up with your tongue fused to the carpet. In fact it renders ...more
May 30, 2009 Cate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel captured first my imagination and then my heart. Hoeg draws you in with exceptional characters and an action packed plot. Madelene, a wealthy but depressed upper class Londoner, appears to have everything, yet her life is not so simple. Insecure and depressed, Madelene is an outsider, even in her own house, medicating herself with alcohol. she discovers that her ambitious husband has procured an ape called Erasmus, on which he plans to experiment. Madelene rescues Erasmus from his cag ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this Peter Hoeg. I really liked Smilla's Sense of Snow and Borderliners, and parts of The Danish Book of Dreams were beautiful and memorable.

This, like The House of Mirth, is about a young woman trying to make her way in the world while obeying society's rules for rich young women. Unlike the House of Mirth, the character in this book breaks these rules by having sex with a highly evolved species of ape. Really.

I love Peter Hoeg's detailed descriptions of scientific procedures, and the d
One of the best books I've read this year. Gets increasingly sci-fi as the book goes on; really riveting and interesting exploration of a concept, which made me think in new ways about the relationship between humans and the environment, animals in cities, zoos, and animals/sexism. I'd love to teach this one day next to the book "Bear". Wasn't super Londony, was my only complaint; it was very good at being about a city, but it could have been any city. It felt strangely distanced and mythic. Tha ...more
Ralph deal
Mar 12, 2008 Ralph deal added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked Smilla's Sense of Snow
While this book by Peter Høeg did not get high ratings in the reviews I read, I found the book delightful. I love the opening scene in which a super-intelligent ape creates havoc with his captors in London. I like the way it treats "scientists" studying an exotic animal in an unnecessarily destructive way.
While this is a bit of science fiction, the story is a could-be one with Peter Høeg's usual sharp observations, on contemporary Britain in this case.
May 27, 2012 Steffi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: london
Es geht um eine neue Affenart, die dem Menschen erstaunlich ähnlich ist, um erotische Anziehungskraft eines Affen auf eine Frau (KingKong lässt grüßen) und die aus diesem Konflikt entstehende Gesellschaftskritik. Interessant zu lesen, aber mit dieser vorhersehbaren Moral etwas platt, auf jeden Fall nicht überragend.
Mar 20, 2007 Richard rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who want a new twist on magic realism
This is one of my favorite books. It's so bizarre and lyrical and romantic. Read it.
Nov 26, 2007 Nona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
short, bizarre, sexy and alarming. almost perfect.
У меня есть привычка перед чтением открывать книгу в рандомном месте и читать пару абзацев. Если бы я этого не сделала с Хёгом, то книга была бы для меня прежде всего о том, как женщина и обезьяна занимаются сексом xD А так я была морально готова и смогла впитать не только сомнительную зоофилию.

ДА, не такого первого знакомства с Хегом я ожидала =)) Тем не менее — присутствует у него этот скандинавский glimpse, никуда от него не денешьcя, хотя действие и происходит в Лондоне. А это означает, чт
Mar 06, 2013 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Hoeg ha uno stile davvero inconfondibile, che apprezzo molto, ma che ho trovato più aderente alla narrazione del suo capolavoro, Il Senso di Smilla per la neve. In ogni caso a me questa storia un po' fantascientifica e surreale è piaciuta abbastanza, anche perché ci richiama a tematiche sempre attuali e per me di un certo interesse. Leggendo si scopre come l'essere umano alla fine sia un po' più animale, e l'animale un po'più essere umano di quello che si crede.
Ho trovato il ritratto dell
Magdalena Hai
Apr 15, 2015 Magdalena Hai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joistain kirjoista tietää jo takakannen perusteella, että niistä tulee pitämään. Naisen ja apinan kanssa olin kuitenkin hieman kahden vaiheilla, sillä idea oli niin järisyttävän mielenkiintoinen, että mietin, voiko toteutus olla samaa tasoa. Nainen ja apina oli hauska, älyllinen ja paikoin yllättäväkin teos. Sen parasta antia olivat ehdottomasti oivalliset hahmokuvaukset, jotka saivat suorastaan hykertelemään. Nautin.
Morninglight Mama
Hmmm... not sure what to say. This was a bizarre book, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it. It took me a while to become invested in these characters, but at some point it just happened, and I found myself actually pulling for this supposedly 'unnatural' couple. I had to take the events and characters at a different 'representational' level, rather than take them at face value. When they become embodiments of the ideas of humanity versus the animal world, it became much easier to accept ...more
Jul 10, 2013 Siiri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Kirja ei takakansitekstissään osannut määrittää genreään, vaan ehdotteli mm. aikuisten tieteissatua, rakkaustarinaa ja eläinten oikeuksia puolustavaa pamflettia. En tiedä mitä se näistä eniten olisi, ehkä jonkinlainen tieteissatu. Eläimet olivat kirjassa kyllä paljon esillä, ja niiden asemasta esitettiin paljon kriittisiä huomioita, kuten myös ihmisyydestä. Ihmisyyden ja eläimyyden suhde sai sekin osakseen tarkkasilmäisiä huomioita, mutta nämä jäivät jollain tavalla irrallisiksi.

Nainen ja apina
Arax Miltiadous
Jun 04, 2014 Arax Miltiadous rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Δεν ειναι οτι τα δίνω εύκολα τα τέσσερα αστερακια.. Μα με κατέλαβε έξ απηνεις το βιβλίο. Δηλαδή πλοκή και εξέλιξη ... Ανευ φαντασίας! Αντιμαχόμενα συναισθήματα μεν... Επαγρύπνηση της σκέψης δε..
Ωραία γραφή.! Ευφάνταστο σενάριο και καθηλωμένο ταξίδι... Τι παραπάνω να ζητήσει κανεις;
Συνίσταται λοιπον!
Επιφυλακτικά ομως.
I just recently realized I read this long ago, near when it came out, maybe 2000? It was a very interesting idea (view spoiler), but was a bit too bizarre for me. My remaining images are the main characters' surprising conversation in the lab, the brain-jarring "town hall" meeting, and some climbing among trees and walls. But I am not clear I actually learned anything; the the ...more
Katja Vartiainen
Aug 06, 2015 Katja Vartiainen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
There are a few hilarious moments in this book, but unfortunately, even though it is written with talent(who could deny Hoeg's skills?) it is too pretentious. Maybe it is due to the translation, I read it in Finnish. The main character is a rich, poor girl, quite credible, whose life is so unnatural, I feel sorry for her. The rest of the characters, even the ape, seem a bit vague. The story could be an excellent basis to philosophize about our man-nature relationship, but it is left to the reade ...more
I was fascinated by the first half and the second half was a bit of a disappointment. It was an interesting and fast read, and brought by a lot of ideas about society and animals, unfortunately it didn't let you 'live' them out through the characters. I would still say that it's worth reading.
Aug 23, 2015 Tyovetich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it - so much to think about re the way we look at animals, evolution, society. A book I keep coming back to because the characters are vibrant.
May 24, 2014 Ellen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Not sure exactly what I thought of this novel. I do enjoy Hoeg's prose style, but I found this novel hard to embrace. It does present an intriguing story, but it was hard to care about the main characters, human or ape. There is a coldness to this novel, which surprised me given that one of his other excellent novels, 'Smila's Sense of Snow' (a novel with cold in its very core) projected a warmth entirely lacking in this distant UK-based story. I didn't hate it, but I would not recommend it to s ...more
Mar 07, 2015 Dancingsocks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever and fast paced read. The bizarrest love story ever told.
Sep 27, 2007 Thea rated it really liked it
After I read this book, I tried to recommend it to a lot of people, but most of them refused to read it on the grounds that it's about a love affair between a woman and an ape, no joke.

I would still recommend it! It's by one of my favourite authors, and it's a beautiful book. It was the first book I ever read that suggested that humans are just another kind of animal, and therefore we should be nicer to animals - but unlike any of the other books I've read on that topic, it's fiction, it's real
Χρήστος Αναστασόπουλος
Ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο, υπέροχα μηνύματα, ασυνήθιστη γραφή.
Oct 23, 2009 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How it rarely happens with compulsory reading, I really enjoyed reading this book.
With bright characters, events and cleverly introduced technical vocabulary, it created a surprisingly lively image of higher societies and also man's view on the world, actions and attitude towards nature and everything and everyone they believe to be beneath them.
The book presented me with a question - who is the animal and who is the human in our society, and in a way answered it.
Adrienne D'Nelle Ruvalcaba
I enjoyed some of the social commentary in the first half of the book. Once Madeline ran off with Erasmus, I was done. I finished it, but I don't think this tale enriched my life at all...not one. little. bit.
Jayan Parameswaran
His name is in the Ladbroke's probables for the Nobel ( at 100/1). I had two of his books in my shelf for a while and I thought this might be the appropriate time to read him. Finished it this morning and I would say, I am not overwhelmed by this. Interesting subject and fairly intelligent writing. But, I am not a great fan of this kind of literature.

I think this must be the weakest of his book. I should have started with "'Smilla's Sense of Snow" instead.

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Peter Høeg was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before becoming a writer, he worked variously as a sailor, ballet dancer, and actor. He published his first novel, A History of Danish Dreams (1988), to positive reviews. However, it was Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1992), a million-copy best seller, that earned Høeg immediate and international literary celebrity. His books have been published in more than th ...more
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“Det var ikke en rituell prognose, som et bryllupsløfte eller et nyttårsforsett. Det var en edsavleggelse av et slag Madelene ikke hadde vært beveget til på tyve år. Det var den fryktløse troskapserklæringen uten tanke på fremtiden som et barn gir en uunværlig lekekamerat.” 0 likes
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