The heroine of this love story is Madelene Burden. Lonely and disillusioned despite her upper-crust London existence, she's a modern-day sleeping beauty drowsing gently in an alcoholic stupor. But the prince whose kiss brings her to life is not tall, dark, and handsome. He's a short, dark, 300-pound ape named Erasmus. The victim of a smuggling attempt gone awry, Erasmus is brought to Madelene's home; her husband, Adam, a distinguished behavioral scientist, believes the ape's sophisticated intelligence renders him more human than animal. If he is right, Erasmus would be a most lucrative addition to Adam's new zoo. But Madelene is determined to save Erasmus from a series of inhumane tests that would rob the ape of the very qualities that makes him so un-apelike. Pursuing this goal with all the energy she had previously reserved for her drinking, Madelene's compassion turns to passion and woman and beast escape and fall in love. But Erasmus has come to England with a purpose that eventually forces the couple to face the world they have sought to flee.Enthralling readers with the same taut prose, enigmatic characters, thrilling suspense, and satirical humor that drove Smilla to the top of bestseller lists across the country, Peter Hoeg offers a daring and imaginative fable that poses searching questions about the nature of romance, freedom and humanity. Above all, it is a love story as erotically charged and emotionally powerful as any you will ever read.