Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ape House by Sara Gruen, Allen and Unwin $37.99 October 2010

Ape House by Sara Gruen, Allen and Unwin $37.99 October 2010

Ape House is unsurprisingly a book about Bonobo Apes.  It is also the story of Isabel, their keeper and friend, and John, a newspaper reporter from Philadelphia.  The apes are a family with matriarch Bonzi, Sam, Jelani, Makena and infant Lola.  They have learnt to understand English and communicate with the staff at the University compound where they live by using American Sign Language.

Soon after John and his newspaper colleagues visit there is an explosion at the compound which injures Isabel and allows the apes to escape.  They are eventually rescued before they disappear from public view.  At the same time John’s wife Amanda takes a script writing job in LA.  Before John and Amanda depart for their new life they endure a visitation from Amanda’s obsessive mother that will leave nothing in their home safe from her cleaning and organizing. 

Isabel’s injuries are horrible especially to her face.  Her connection to the apes is familial.  She is driven her to establish what exactly has happened to them and to return them to a safe environment that they can control.

John and Isabel’s journeys will entwine as the apes rescue is attempted and what really happened is uncovered.

Ape House is a great novel from bestselling author Sara Gruen.  Her Water for Elephants was a warm poignant story of people and the animals they know.    Here she delivers yet again, but perhaps even better.  The strands of Hollywood, tough newspaper work, Reality TV and a group of Apes who know exactly what they want and are able to communicate this to their human friends make for an entertaining and compelling novel.  This is a must read this Christmas.

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