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The woman and the ape review

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Interesting and satisfying. The characters never quite came to life for me emotionally but certainly engaged me mentally. Good story and ends well which is always really difficult to do. Part cautionary tale, part love story, and part adventure story. Set in London, it concerns a new species of ape, imported by the zoologist husband of a young Danish woman, Madelene Burden. In a way

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An Ape Showing Humans What Humanity Is

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A lot of people have been waiting for Peter Hoeg's new novel, people who were captivated by the originality and wit of his ''Smilla's Sense of Snow,'' the surprise best seller of three years ago about a half-Eskimo woman from Copenhagen who solves the mystery of a small boy's death.

Some of the spirit of that book has made its way into ''The Woman and the Ape,'' which also has a main female character of off-center allure. This new novel is similarly shrouded in a vague sense of mystery, and it is written with an epigrammatic grace that reveals Mr.

Hoeg as a writer of an especially polished quirkiness. Hoeg's familiarly warped universe. A ship on the Thames approaches London with an ape on board ''all hunched up with its eyes closed and a blanket around its shoulders. Things go wrong. The boat runs out of control. The ape escapes, and for several chapters as his story takes shape, Mr. Hoeg has us in his spell. Unfortunately, the promising structure he has built suddenly collapses into a precious, preachy, implausible, even maudlin fairy tale.

This is too bad, because even when it fails, ''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.

Hoeg's voice. The problem is that he didn't manage to enlist that voice in a convincing literary cause this time around. Hoeg's title naturally gives rise to thoughts of that other story involving a woman and an ape, the one that ended on top of the Empire State Building.

In a sense, what the woman and the ape of Mr. Hoeg's new book do is reverse the moral pretense of ''King Kong.

Hoeg's story; humankind is wicked, so wicked that the ape is more the way men are supposed to be, while men are apelike. Alone among the human beings is the woman of the title, who tries to redeem her flaws by an act of moral opposition. She is Madelene Burden, a transplanted Dane who was swept away from her wealthy, useless life in Copenhagen by an English zoologist and naturalist named Adam, a suave and enigmatically ambitious man who ''had all the monumental self-importance of the big beasts of prey and of the great dictators.

Adam lives in a London town house called Mombasa Manor, built to reproduce the ambiance of empire, and there Madelene, who is bored, spoiled, self-hating and alcoholic, becomes aware of strange goings-on in which the well-being of Erasmus seems imminently threatened. Exactly what these goings-on are we do not know, Mr. Hoeg's novel at this stage still promising to be a sleek, mysterious entertainment in the tradition of Graham Greene.

But Madelene feels a strange attraction to the ape who ''in its stoic helplessness had reminded her of herself. Gradually Madelene sheds her self-destructiveness and her early-morning shots of pure alcohol. Suddenly showing a remarkable gift for masquerade, she disguises herself as a member of the Meat Marketing Board Research Center and embarks on an effort to find out just why so much mean-spirited attention is being devoted to the ape. She makes intriguing discoveries: the ape, it seems, is of an unknown species, and is not the dwarf chimpanzee Adam told her it was.

She learns that equipment moved into the ape's quarters at Mombasa Manor is intended for sophisticated intelligence and DNA testing. Menacing figures lurk in the shadows, including a policeman suspicious that Adam is part of an illegal animal-smuggling network.

Finally, fearing for Erasmus's life, Madelene escapes with him, and it is at that point that Mr. Hoeg's story soars into the realm it inhabits for its entire second half, the realm of didactic silliness posing as satire. The elements of this include an interspecies love affair that comes across as somewhat less interesting than the more usual intraspecies variety.

Erasmus and Madelene pass an idyll of ''Old Testament harmony'' in a kind of reconfigured Garden of Eden, actually a zoological refuge planned for the greater glory of Adam and Andrea Burden. At the end we discover that apes are capable of impersonating human beings a good deal more successfully than the other way around, doing so to impart a few lessons in the fragility of the ecosystem.

The tingling sense of mystery that Mr. Hoeg evoked disappears as the ape emerges not so much a member of an endangered species but as a kind of supersimian, a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Albert Schweitzer. As always with Mr. Hoeg, the writing can sparkle.

Hoeg writes at one point of Madelene's awareness of physical deterioration. But Madelene, who started out so promisingly, limps along in the second half of the book as little more than a sexual prop, her story, having tried so hard to satirize the human condition, losing its bearings and ending up satirizing itself.

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No-one likes to be called an animal, yet animals are what we inescapably are. And from poor frightened stuffy old Bishop Wilberforce on there have always been people who think that being an ape is worse, somehow, than being any animal at all. Yet apes we are, and apes we remain. Walking down the street one can see the resemblance — in the turn of a jaw, in grasping manipulative hands, in the hairy back of the man who simply must wear a singlet.

P eter Hoeg, the Danish author of the surprise international bestseller, "Smilla's Sense of Snow," has concocted a new book that's as awkward as its own half-breed protagonist. The Woman, a pampered, upper-crusty Dane named Madelene, is the wife of zookeeper Adam, and she's the only one who can save The Ape from grisly testing and permanent imprisonment. After they run off together, The Ape quickly learns English, and naturally one thing leads to another -- and we are faced with some truly absurd cross-species pollination.

A lot of people have been waiting for Peter Hoeg's new novel, people who were captivated by the originality and wit of his ''Smilla's Sense of Snow,'' the surprise best seller of three years ago about a half-Eskimo woman from Copenhagen who solves the mystery of a small boy's death. Some of the spirit of that book has made its way into ''The Woman and the Ape,'' which also has a main female character of off-center allure. This new novel is similarly shrouded in a vague sense of mystery, and it is written with an epigrammatic grace that reveals Mr. Hoeg as a writer of an especially polished quirkiness. Hoeg's familiarly warped universe.

The Woman and the Ape

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Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. The story seems too locked in the world of children's fantasy to support such subversive ideology, but that is only one of the conventional assumptions that must be shed as we read this most unconventional novel. When Madelene, the stifled, alcoholic wife of a London zoo director, decides to help free an ape that is soon to become the prize exhibit in her husband's zoo, she hardly expects to wind up fleeing London on this extraordinary ape's back, soaring with all the magic of E.

The Woman and the Ape is the story of a unique and unforgettable couple—Madelene and Erasmus. Madelene—a sleeping beauty drowsing gently in an alcoholic stupor—is the beautiful and disillusioned wife of Adam Burden, a distinguished behavior scientist.

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Nov 15, - Robert Spillman reviews the novel "The Woman and the Ape" by Peter Hoeg.

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Comments: 3
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  2. Mabar

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  3. Nem

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