From the Publisher
“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
“A witty, compelling thriller that touches a primal nerve that has lain dormant since King Kong fell hard for Fay Wray.” Francine Prose, People
“This decade's most offbeat love story . . . Funny, often touching, and definitely inventive.” David Walton, St. Petersburg Times
“The Woman and the Ape is great fun to read. . . . Peter Høeg 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
“No imaginative writer working today is any more daring than Danish novelist Peter Høeg, any more willing to shock readers with something that is genuinely new. . . . He does it again with this utterly original mix of fantasy, fable, myth, and love story.” Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)
“This should confirm Peter Høeg's place as one of the most creative and interesting authors today.” Elizabeth D. Dickie, Richmond Times-Dispatch
“One of the most griping 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
“An engrossing fable.” Deloris Ament, The Seattle Times
Heg's fourth novel (his third, the international success Smilla's Sense of Snow, 1993, having been the first published here) is an energetic fable about relations between the animal kingdom and its human exploitersmore than a little didactic in spots, but distinguished by enough wit and invention to redeem a dozen lesser books.
The story begins in London when a "dwarf chimpanzee" escapes from animal smugglers and is immediately captured and targeted for exhaustive experimentation by a research institute affiliated with the city's zoo. Behavioral scientist Adam Burden and his steely sister Andrea, who works for an Animal Welfare Foundation, see in their astonishing find ("a new and hitherto unknown mammal, an apparently highly intelligent anthropoid ape") a career-making opportunity. But their plans are thwarted when Adam's Danish-born wife Madelene, a lissome alcoholic, discovers in the ape (named "Erasmus") a fellow sufferer whose captivity echoes her own (as a tamed, well-behaved helpmate and showpiece), and also a potential soulmate. Forswearing drink, Madelene craftily subverts her husband's careerist politicking, andaided by the smuggler's cheerfully criminal driverruns off with Erasmus. The novel really picks up seriocomic steam as Madelene and Erasmus learn to communicate (he can talk, and is a quick learner), make love in the treetops, and enjoy a mock-Edenic "idyll" unobserved in a junglelike wildlife preserve. Everything climaxes during Adam's acceptance speech as he's being installed as the London Zoo's new directorwith dramatic proof that Erasmus isn't the only creature of his kind. It's a romp, in more senses than one, and Heg manages, against odds, to shape both the story's discursiveness and its ingenious plot toward a smashing and emotionally satisfying conclusion.
Heg is an adventurous and intelligent writer whose future course seems, happily, impossible to predict. He has made himself, in a few short years, one of the essential contemporary novelists.