Mr Fatigay is a hapless Edwardian schoolmaster posted to the Congo. His sole companion in the tropics is Emily: petite, dark and vivacious, brushing the floor with the knuckles of her strong capable hands. Emily is a prodigiously gifted chimpanzee of great intelligence and sensitivity, and also a secret autodidact. As she uncovers the delights of art and literature, she proves to be more cultivated and compassionate than the human animals around her.
When the time comes for Mr Fatigay to return home to London, he brings Emily along – gifting her to his adored fiancée, Amy, who makes her a housemaid. To escape her stifling servitude, Emily begins donning Amy’s clothes and sneaking out across the rooftops: she reads Darwin at The British Museum (where she is taken for a fascinating woman of mystery), calls on the apes at the zoo, and discovers her talent for the stage. But her secret trips into town provide only a brief solace, as there is only one person who can make her truly happy. . .
His Monkey Wife is a comic masterpiece about a most unexpected love-triangle, and a biting satire about the nature of civilisation.
Read the first chapter here.
‘If you don’t know his work, you owe yourself the pleasure – the indispensable pleasure – of Collier.’ – Michael Chabon
‘A wayward masterpiece.’ – Anthony Burgess
‘From the first sentence the reader is aware that he is in the presence of a magician . . . [Collier] casts a spell and he does so always with a smile.’ – Paul Theroux
‘Truly sui generis . . . a small masterpiece of social satire.’ – Boston Globe
‘It’s a pity that Collier isn’t better known, as he was the creator of many an eerie tale.’ – Neil Gaiman