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The Woman and the Ape: A Novel
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The Woman and the Ape: A Novel

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,981 Ratings  ·  97 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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Apr 16, 2008 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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 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.
This will be a parable full of insight to some out there - skewed vets maybe.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is the most charitable comment I can think of at this precise moment.
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 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
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
Jan 18, 2009 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
Ralph deal
Mar 12, 2008 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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: places-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.
Inna Ershova
Feb 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No, this book is not like "Smilla and Her Sense of Snow". I wanted to give it 2 stars first for several witty metaphors, but after thinking for a while, I decided that in general, "The Woman and the Ape" seemed disastrous to me. To be more specific, it's full of cliches, repulsive descriptions and pretentious conclusions.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
short, bizarre, sexy and alarming. almost perfect.
Mar 20, 2007 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.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 'ape' is brought as the centerpiece for the New London Regent's Park Zoological Gardens and subjected to invasive and, perhaps, not safe tests to determine its genus. Not yet cataloged in a particular simian family yet having what seem to be some human characteristics, it is a new discovery, and meant to be the 'jewel' of the Gardens and in the career of self-obsessed scientists, Adam Burden and his sister, Andrea, who is a ferocious power within her field. Adam's wife, a trophy wife, bored, ...more
Dominic Smith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The characters and story line reminded me of Tom Robbins. Right at the end of the first half the book turns magical. From that point on I have a harder time believing the actions of the characters and understanding their motivations. There is an overall upbeat mood which is vastly different from Smilla's Sense of Snow. Generally I don't find books by the same writer that are so vastly different.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It took me six months to read this book. It was boring with too few interesting plot points. The ending made me consider giving three stars but overall The Woman and the Ape was not a book I would easily recommend to my friends.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jeg skulle læse den i gymnasiet, og jeg kunne simpelthen ikke komme igennem den. Den fangede mig ikke rigtig, og forvirrede mig meget.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it, was weird and alternative and enjoyed the whole experience.
Luca  Menyhart
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Potter
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel deserves 10 stars, not 5! Being a huge fan of Peter Høeg's, you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an edition published in 1997 of The Woman and the Ape. I'd never heard of the novel before, but the fact that my favourite Danish author had written it and the cover was suitably quirky (not the one featured here on Goodreads, but far better), I couldn't wait to get home and start turning the book's yellowed pages.

The experience was like entering a different world and being amaz
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
A ship smuggling wild animals crashes into a pier in an English harbor, allowing a strange ape to escape. He is eventually captured by a behavioral scientist who finds out how preternaturally intelligent this ape is. The scientist wants to to more experiments on the animal, but his alcoholic wife, who is drawn to the creature, thwarts the plan and helps him escape. While on the run, the odd couple falls in love. Is the creature, an animal, a man, or something else?

This is a very bizarre book tha
Feb 12, 2013 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
Jul 01, 2013 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
Strange but fun
Katja Vartiainen
Jun 02, 2015 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
Anna Pixner
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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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
“- Det ser ut som en krypta.
- Döden är förtroendeingivande. Alla banker är inredda som gravvalv.”
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