Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Woman & the Ape - Peter Høeg

This year's Nobel speculation had few names which aren't those in the running for a while. Ladbroke, the betting site in their probable list had the name of Peter Høeg at 100/1 odds. I have been carrying two of his books in my ever growing list of books pile. The woman and the Ape is the slimmer book and I thought it would be appropriate to read him now, as his name is in the list of probable. I'm not very enthusiastic about his prospects after reading this book. However, to many of his readers, this is one of his weakest book and it may be too premature to judge this writer on the experience of a single book.

The Woman and the Ape, begins well with the arrival of an ape to the shores of London. Escaping the captivity, it was rescued by an animal enthusiast, Andrea Burden and was brought to her brother Dr Adam Burden, soon to be the new president of the Regent's Park Zoological Gardens. Adam's alcoholic wife Madelene, at first intrigued and develop curiosity on the animal ( now called Erasmus). It is evident soon that the intention of her husband is not all that ethical, as the experiment on the Ape, goes to the level of causing permanent damage to the captive. She set out to find the truth behind the clandestine activities, often in disguise and away from the comfort of her rich cushy home. At a turning point, she escapes with the Ape to the woods, causing turmoil in the family. Until now, the book seems to be going ok. Now, set to teach the intelligent Ape, the language of the humans, and living with the ape for over 10 days of love fest , she wanted to make a new beginning to her dull life. The action now moves from Adam and Madelene to the Ape, who seems to be in control of himself and have a definite plan for himself , which include the kidnapping of Madelene. The next few pages of intense action with the revelation of the Apes in the influential positions of the administration and the test of various levels of human-animal conflicts

I'm not a great fan of these kind of literature. I am not sure if some one can call it science fiction or experimental fiction. One can understand the need of Madelene to escape from the current constraints of her living. Ape seems to be the possible escape route for her, and her anger and frustration is directed towards her husband. Adam is busy with his own personal life with his ambition to make it big in the field of his interest with whatever means, in which he succeeds. Ape, with his own hidden agenda, plays a step ahead of them and managed to work his way through using the vulnerability of Madelene.

Interesting book, non regular narrative, clear and stand out characterisation and easy read. However, on the whole, this books does not deliver to the promise. May be the shift of the narrative to the Ape, from Madelene caused the disruption. His attempt to satiric portray of London's society and academic community, Attempt to bring in the inter species love affair , to the level of being physical love ( I remember reading a similar instant in one of Alena Rayes novel) and Apes learning of Human Language the thriller type finish, all that was almost silly and unimpressive. The pretext is very interesting and an idea of human-humanoid interaction is interesting, but the result it delivered is not in line with the idea and structure. He may be a good writer, but this book did not live up to the expectations. May be, Smilla's Sense of Snow, the other book I have , will be much better.
The Woman & the Ape ( 1996 )

Peter Høeg ( translated from Danish by Barbara Haveland 1996)

The Harvill Press

229 Pages
NY Times

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