The Woman and the Ape: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Woman and the Ape: A Novel

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  1,228 ratings  ·  67 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,706)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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.
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...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.
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 5 of 5 stars 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.
short, bizarre, sexy and alarming. almost perfect.
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
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...more
Karen Sofarin
Super. I just wish I didn't like so many other books a 5star when I read one like this. Outstanding in details of character and the description. I love the way he writes women who are finding themselves and manages to keep the reader on the dge of their seat with his twists and turns. So original and interesting to the last page.
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...more
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
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
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...more
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
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.
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.

Not for me. Loved Smilla, this plot is so far fetched (talking apes), in part disturbing. Characters one dimensional.

I was not thrilled about this selection for one of my book clubs. However it ended up being one of my favorites. I felt empathy for the characters and found the story and characters well developed. The loneliness and pain felt by Madelene and the Ape were believable and despite their flaws I found myself hoping they would succeed. Good discussion book for a book club and an interesting read if you don't belong to one.
Juliet Wilson
A disturbing story of a bored woman who runs away with an ape. But it is a lot more than that, it dissects human attitudes to the natural world and our relationships with other species. At the same time it looks at the animal in every human - we're not that far removed from the apes at all when you think about it are we? A compelling, thought provoking read.
Lidt for typisk hørt-1000-gange-før civilisations/videnskabskritik. Den første halvdel af bogen er ellers lovende - interessant hovedperson, fængende osv. Men omkring midt i bogen bliver alting bare lidt for meget og det bliver tydeligt, at hele plottet er bygget op på den her forudsigelige kritik af (lidt for) begejstrede videnskabsmænd, der tror de ved det hele..
This story is really "out there" yet, amazingly, I was able to maintain the willing suspension of disbelief necessary to read it. I did not like it as well as but found it thought provoking in a way that was not. The topic was not as compelling for me personally as that of which was also thought provoking.
Celia Bygraves
Loved this little book, put me in mind of Life of Pi, Greystoke and King Kong all wrapped up together. :) Great piece of escapism with some very interesting statistics and facts,environmental and animal rights issues. The flowering relationship of Madalene and Erasmus was done with, a few far fetched moments, but it's a fantastic magical ride :)
Elsie Klumpner
This was a fun and very weird story. I enjoyed it.
The clothes make the man. I did enjoy reading this book. I'm not much of a science fiction fan, but there is a message here - very important - that we are all sharing this planet together, and we seriously do need to realize that we cannot just keep taking all of the resources for us so called humans.
Oct 23, 2008 Terpsicore rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terpsicore by: Maria
Well, that was a very surprising book indeed, everybody had said so. Reconciled myself with Peter Hoeg ( I did have some trouble with Smilla). But I must admit the man is good. It is hard to get away with such a plot.
And I loved Madelene's emancipation. Thanks for "pushing" it to me, M!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 56 57 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tales of Protection
  • Heren van de thee
  • Revolution
  • De Passievrucht
  • When Species Meet
  • The Professor's Daughter: A Novel
  • The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World
  • The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto
  • Little Stalker
  • The Exception
  • La casa in collina
  • Doghead
  • Fiona Range
  • Kongens fald
  • Herzsprung
  • Ved Vejen
  • The Dormant Beast (Le Sommeil du monstre, #1)
  • Vertical Run
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
More about Peter Høeg...
Smilla's Sense of Snow Borderliners The Quiet Girl The Elephant Keepers' Children The History Of Danish Dreams

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…