Jennie

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Overview

When Professor Hugo Archibald finds an orphaned baby chimp in Africa, it seems like the most normal thing in the world for him to bring the brave little toddler home to Boston to live with his wife and two small children. Jennie quickly assimilates into mid-sixties suburban life, indulging in the rambunctious fun one would expect from a typical American kid of her generation: riding breakneck on her own tricycle, playing with Booger the kitten and a Barbie doll, fighting with her siblings over use of the TV, and ...
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Overview

When Professor Hugo Archibald finds an orphaned baby chimp in Africa, it seems like the most normal thing in the world for him to bring the brave little toddler home to Boston to live with his wife and two small children. Jennie quickly assimilates into mid-sixties suburban life, indulging in the rambunctious fun one would expect from a typical American kid of her generation: riding breakneck on her own tricycle, playing with Booger the kitten and a Barbie doll, fighting with her siblings over use of the TV, and - as a teenager - learning to drink, smoke pot, and curse just like her human peers. Attaining an impressive command of American Sign Language, Jennie absorbs a warped vision of heaven from a neighborhood minister, experiences first-hand the bureaucracies of the American health-care system, and even has her own fifteen minutes of fame. Jennie's story - hilarious, poignant, and ultimately tragic - introduces to American literature one of the most endearing animal heroines in modern fiction.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The protagonist of this good-humored though long-winded novel is a chimpanzee. Jennie lives for almost a decade during the 1970s and enjoys the period's activities, e.g., peace marches and dropping LSD. Written in the form of diary entries and interviews, the narrative draws on research with actual primates (Preston is the author of Dinosaurs in the Attic and other nonfiction works on scientific subjects) and advances the theory that chimps are nearly human. Naturalist Dr. Hugo Archibald delivers baby Jennie from her dying mother in the Cameroons and brings her home to his American family. His young son Sandy bonds with Jennie, but daughter Sarah, only eight months old when Jennie arrives, grows to fiercely resent the chimp. A minister who sees Jennie as a ``child of God'' teaches her about Jesus. After being trained in ASL (American Sign Language), the apt chimp learns to converse, wheedle, taunt, lie and swear. Her antics resemble those of a gleeful, willful human brat, given to tantrums that include tearing up furniture. She hoards and steals. She shops at Bloomingdale's. She meets celebrities. She gets arrested. Sexual maturity is Jennie's downfall. Sent to a wildlife camp, she identifies her fellow chimp as a ``black bug,'' feels betrayed and violently grieves for her lost freedom. The tale gives Preston a chance to discourse on evolution and socialization, aggression, love, suffering and death, successfully integrating these topics into his whimsical narrative. While some readers may delight in Jennie's exploits, others may find the narrative cartoonish and one-dimensional, a joke that keeps repeating itself in different keys. 50,000 first printing; film rights to Disney; audio by Brilliance; author appearances. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Jennie, an orphan chimpanzee, is brought to America from Africa by anthropologist Hugo Archibald. Jennie learns American Sign Language, which allows her to communicate with her new family, neighbors, and scientists. Major problems arise when Jennie becomes an adolescent, and her forced realization that she is not human has catastrophic results. The novel is divided into a series of interviews and diary entries made by the various people who have a hand in raising Jennie. So realistic are these different accounts of Jennie's life that many readers will believe the book is a nonfiction case history of a chimpanzee. The book's conclusion raises provocative questions about our relationship to, and treatment of, other species. This first novel features an enchanting heroine who will not soon be forgotten by readers. An excellent purchase for public libraries of all sizes.-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Barbara Duree
Jennie, a chimpanzee orphaned at birth in Africa, is rescued by Dr. Hugo Archibald, Curator of Physical Anthropology at the Boston Museum of Natural History, and brought back to the U.S., where she is raised as a member of his family and taught to communicate by means of American Sign Language. She becomes the subject of a number of scientific experiments and also something of a national celebrity before the predictably tragic end of her short life. Reconstructed some 17 years later entirely through extracts from personal journals, academic papers, and taped interviews with the principals involved. Jennie's story, though fiction, reads like a real case study of primate (chimpanzee and human) behavior. It raises moral and ethical as well as scientific questions and proves the considerable skills of the author as a novelist. He has also written several nonfiction books, including "Cities of Gold" (1992). "Jennie" is soon to be a Disney feature film so expect demand.
Jane Goodall
I love Jennie, the book and the chimp . . . a very remarkable person and a very important book.
From the Publisher
"Engaging and touching . . . A remarkable book."—The Denver Post on Jennie

"Brilliant and complex. Jennie is a dazzling fiction debut."—Los Angeles Times

on Jennie

"A poignant, thought-provoking story."—The Wall Street Journal on Jennie

"A haunting account of the nebulous line between man and animal. . . . Tragic, dark, irresistible."—Boston Herald on Jennie

"I love Jennie, the book and the chimp . . . a very remarkable person and a very important book."—Jane Goodall, bestselling author of In the Shadow of Man

"An amazing story."—Entertainment Weekly on Jennie

"Engrossing story of a chimp experiment . . . Jennie is a believable character, both hilarious and heart-breaking."—Cleveland Plain Dealer on Jennie

"An enchanting morality tale in which genes and evolution replace fates of ancient tragedy. . . . Preston sticks to scientific fact and so it's to his credit that he reader finds himself asking 'Is Jennie human?' and to the end is never convinced that she is not."—Dallas Morning News on Jennie

Denver Post
Engaging and touching . . . A remarkable book.
Los Angeles Times
Brilliant and complex. Jennie is a dazzling fiction debut.
The Wall Street Journal
A poignant, thought-provoking story.
Boston Herald
A haunting account of the nebulous line between man and animal. . . . Tragic, dark, irresistible.
Entertainment Weekly
An amazing story.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Engrossing . . . Jennie is a believable character, both hilarious and heart-breaking.
Dallas Morning News
An enchanting morality tale in which genes and evolution replace fates of ancient tragedy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312112943
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

Douglas Preston

Douglas Preston is the co-author with Lincoln Child of the celebrated Pendergast series of novels, including such best-selling titles as Fever Dream, The Book of the Dead, The Wheel of Darkness, and Relic, which became a number one box office hit movie. His solo novels include the New York Times bestsellers Impact, Blasphemy, The Codex, and Tyrannosaur Canyon. His most recent nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a film starring George Clooney. Preston is an expert long-distance horseman, a member of the elite Long Riders Guild, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He has travelled to remote parts of the world as an archaeological correspondent for The New Yorker. He also worked as an editor and writer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. Preston is the Co-president of International Thriller Writers, and serves on the Governing Council of the Authors Guild.

Biography

Douglas Preston was born in 1956 in Cambridge, MA, was raised in nearby Wellesley (where, by his own admission, he and his brothers were the scourge of the neighborhood!), and graduated from Pomona College in California with a degree in English literature.

Preston's first job was as a writer for the American Museum of Natural History in New York -- an eight year stint that led to the publication of his first book, Dinosaurs in the Attic and introduced him to his future writing partner, Lincoln Child, then working as an editor at St. Martin's Press. The two men bonded, as they worked closely together on the book. As the project neared completion, Preston treated Child to a private midnight tour of the museum, an excursion that proved fateful. As Preston tells it, "...in the darkened Hall of Late Dinosaurs, under a looming T. Rex, Child turned to [me] and said: 'This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!'" Their first collaborative effort, Relic, would not be published until 1995, by which time Preston had picked up stakes and moved to Santa Fe to pursue a full-time writing career.

In addition to writing novels (The Codex, Tyrannosaur Canyon) and nonfiction books on the American Southwest (Cities of Gold, Ribbons of Time), Preston has collaborated with Lincoln Child on several post-Relic thrillers. While not strictly a series, the books share characters and events, and the stories all take place in the same universe. The authors refer to this phenomenon as "The Preston-Child Pangea."

Preston divides his time between New Mexico and Maine, while Child lives in New Jersey -- a situation that necessitates a lot of long-distance communication. But their partnership (facilitated by phone, fax, and email) is remarkably productive and thoroughly egalitarian: They shape their plots through a series of discussions; Child sends an outline of a set of chapters; Preston writes the first draft of those chapters, which is subsequently rewritten by Child; and in this way the novel is edited back and forth until both authors are happy. They attribute the relatively seamless surface of their books to the fact that "[a]ll four hands have found their way into practically every sentence, at one time or another."

In between, Preston remains busy. He is a regular contributor to magazines like National Geographic, The New Yorker, Natural History, Smithsonian, Harper's, and Travel & Leisure, and he continues with varied solo literary projects. Which is not to say his partnership with Lincoln Child is over. Fans of the bestselling Preston-Child thrillers can be assured there are bigger and better adventures to come.

Good To Know

Douglas Preston counts among his ancestors the poet Emily Dickinson, the newspaperman Horace Greeley, and the infamous murderer and opium addict Amasa Greenough.

His brother is Richard Preston, the bestselling author of The Hot Zone, The Cobra Event, The Wild Trees, and other novels and nonfiction narratives.

Preston is an expert horseman and a member of the Long Riders Guild.

He is also a National Geographic Society Fellow, has traveled extensively around the world, and contributes archaeological articles to many magazines.

In our interview, Preston shared some fun and fascinating personal anecdotes.

"My first job was washing dishes in the basement of a nursing home for $2.10 an hour, and I learned as much about the value of hard work there as I ever did later."

"I need to write in a small room -- the smaller the better. I can't write in a big room where someone might sneak up behind my back."

"My hobbies are mountain biking, horseback riding and packing, canoeing and kayaking, hiking, camping, cooking, and skiing."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating

    This is a great book to read if you ever wondered what goes on behind the intelligent eyes of an ape, or where the dividing line between man and ape really lies. Through interviews, personal journals, and news articles based on real chimpanzees, Preston lays out the riveting story of a chimp, imprinted upon humans as a newborn in Africa and subsequently raised as a human in suburban Boston. As the chimp grows older, the family and community begin to recognize the extraordinary humanity that she displays. Anecdotes, informal games, and experiments uncover the intelligence and human characteristics of this amazing chimpanzee. A touching story that draws you in from the very first page and makes you question your beliefs about "lowly" animals.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2002

    An Emotional book

    Jennie was an excellent book that tells a remarkable but sad story of a chimpanzee taken from the wild and raised in a human family. The story is also sending an important message to people; Wild animals belong in the wild and maybe they are cute and cuddley when they are babies but when they get older their natural instincts come out sooner or later.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2001

    Heart Touching

    I think that Jennie's story is a heart warming tale. I'm just fascinated by it! I highly reccomend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Jhghhjgo


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

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