Virginia Hutton embarks upon an experiment. She will take an ape and raise it as a human child…

She purchases an infant orangutan and names him Appius. She clothes him, feeds him, and puts him to bed in a cot every night. As Appius grows older, she teaches him to dress himself, to speak, to read, to stand and walk up straight, to eat his meals at the dining table with a knife and fork. She teaches him how to be human. The young orangutan is not always a willing student. Their relationship becomes fraught and flits between that of mother and child, teacher and student, scientist and experiment. But as Appius gains knowledge he moves ever closer to the one discovery Virginia does not want him to make: that of his true origins.



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Wow! Why has it taken so long for this story to be reissued?! I knew nothing of this author before the stunning cover drew me in, but now I’m just itching to read all that she wrote before her tragic death during the Blitz.

This is one of those quietly powerful books that really packs a punch – the simple story of nature v nurture and how loneliness affects people in different ways. In the case of Virginia, she is a middle aged woman who seems to yearn for some company, but spurns attempts from friends to connect. Her plan to not feel so lonely? Raise a baby ape as a child to see if he can be turned ‘human’ by just being around her and being treated like a real baby…… is it madness? or is it just a genuine attempt to search for answers in how surroundings affect an animal.

She dresses him as a baby, puts him in a cot, even teaches him to talk over the years and you can’t help but be moved by her devotion to him. And what adds brilliantly to the story is that it features both their sides of the story and it is difficult not to feel sorry for both of them in different ways. Virginia seems driven by loneliness and needing a purpose in her life as she’s too proud to reach out and ask for help from others. Whereas Appius is trying hard to please his ‘mum’ but animal instincts often take over and he’s often scared and confused. There are many dark undertones throughout, but mixed in with the touching moments when you see the genuine bond they begin to build up.

As he grows up, his inquisitiveness takes over and he even gets to experience bullying from children in the village – just like a real boy. Seeing his experiences it hits a nerve with Virginia – has she done the right thing? She is plagued by those doubts of harming Appius with her experiment, but her need for companionship gets the better of that rational.

A stunning and bold book and one that kept me totally captivated and mesmerized.





Rachel Klein is sacked from her job at the White House after she sends an email criticising Donald Trump. As she is escorted off the premises she is hit by a speeding car, driven by what the press will discreetly call ‘a personal friend of the President’.

Does that explain the flowers, the get-well wishes at a press briefing, the hush money offered by a lawyer at her hospital bedside?

Rachel’s recovery is soothed by comically doting parents, matchmaking room-mates, a new job as aide to a journalist whose books aim to defame the President, and unexpected love at the local wine store.

But secrets leak, and Rachel’s new-found happiness has to make room for more than a little chaos. Will she bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself?

Rachel to the Rescue is a mischievous political satire, with a delightful cast of characters, from one of America’s funniest novelists.







My first Elinor Lipman book and it won’t be my last! This was such an enjoyable, funny and cutting book humour wise that I looked forward to picking it up everyday to see just what the main character was going to have to endure after her accident upon leaving the White House where she briefly worked for ‘that’ man! Until she sends a ranty email his way!!

When she starts receiving flowers from the presidents’ own family when she wakes up in hospital this starts her off on a complete life change and perfectly sums up the world we live in right now – from nobody to viral news story overnight!!

The more she finds out about the accident the more she is drawn into a world of scandal, subterfuge and gossip! All set amidst the Covid pandemic too which added to how relevant the story felt! It was probably shocking too that it all felt like it could actually happen! With the craziness that 2020 has thrown at us, I’m not ruling anything out!!

The story clipped along at a great pace and I loved Rachel’s parents as characters too! Straight talking, go getting and lots of fun! This was a timely and funny read and one I can highly recommend!! 


My thanks to Scott at Lightning books for the copy in return for a fair and honest review.