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VINE VOICEon September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I honestly expected to love this book. I had read and loved ERB's Tarzan books, I had read and loved most of the pastiches, and the premise sounded absolutely brilliant: Tarzan's story from Jane's point of view. The cover illustration was magnificent! How could it possibly fail to be great? But as I read my way through it, my discomfort grew until it transformed itself into horror. Robin Maxwell hadn't gotten a few things wrong.

She'd gotten EVERYTHING wrong.

Let's start with the frame story, a perfectly acceptable storytelling device, often used by ERB himself, in order to increase the sense of realism. But it places limitations the author needs to be aware of. In this case as other reviewers have noted, the idea that a woman would confess a story containing intimate sexual details about herself to a male total stranger would be hard to believe in 2012. In 1912 the idea is laughable.

Second, while it was an intriguing idea to have Jane tell her story to ERB himself, why was it necessary to portray ERB as so utterly seduced by her beauty, to the point that he is making disparaging comparisons between Jane and his own real life wife, the mother of his children? Why did we have to know she was the sort of woman he frequently fantasized about but heretofore believed existed only in his imagination? Why did he have to be portrayed as inviting her back to an apartment that his wife and children are conveniently absent from? As behaving like the world's clumsiest philanderer? I assume it was intended to be funny, but it just made me uncomfortable.

Third, other than as the gimmick to introduce Jane to ERB, why was Jane giving controversial presentations to skeptical audiences with most of her evidence tied behind her back? Readers are presumably supposed to blame the skepticism on sexism, but in truth it is Jane's fault for not presenting her strongest evidence. Of course one could make a very good argument for withholding said evidence: the personal privacy of the one who must give it, but if she has so decided, why endure the inevitable ridicule of someone merely going through the motions? I actually suspected it would turn out to be a deliberate attempt to obscure the truth, but, no, it turned out to be a case of Jane (and the author) not bothering to think it through.

Fourth, though it represents a change from the original, there was a certain logic to portraying Jane and her father as atheists, given their professions in this version, but why was it necessary to portray them as such obnoxious atheists? There is one very ugly scene that doesn't advance the plot in any way in which Jane and father while away the voyage to Africa by cruelly baiting a missionary couple that has the misfortune of sharing the ship with them. Their only perceivable motives appear to be anti-Christian bigotry and perhaps embarrassed envy at the realization that these people are taking far greater risks for far less selfish reasons than our "heroes" are. To my mind it would have made a lot more sense to have the villain doing this with Jane and her father embarrassed and shamed by it, but perhaps the author was trying to convey her own views on the topic.

Fifth, while there was merit in trying to work the Congolese Holocaust into the plot, especially in light of how much it has been forgotten today (see King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa for the history), it would have been better if the author could have come up with an evil plot that made more sense. Essentially the villain's evil plot is to survey a railroad to the sea through French territory that will enable King Leopold's brutes to more efficiently loot the Congo Free State,...

a railroad that already existed on Congo Free State territory bypassing 300 miles of unnavigable river at the mouth of the Congo. Not that another railroad wouldn't have been profitable for trade purposes; the French eventually built one there precisely for that reason after the Congo Free State was taken away from Leopold and made into a "normal" European colony, but as the basis of an evil plot it is kind of pathetic. Nobody successfully gets away with "sneaking" a railroad through someone else's territory, at least not through the territory of someone who is able to defend it, which the French certainly were, against Leopold's mercenaries.

Sixth, for some reason Ms. Maxwell felt it necessary to fill Jane's head with all sorts of ideas that merely made her look silly as opposed to perfectly reasonable desires for women's equality and concerns for oppressed peoples, ideas like opposition to the rich having servants (We're not talking slaves here; we're talking people who might very well have starved if Jane had her way), almost proudly regarding cruelty to animals as worse than cruelty to humans (kind of diminishes that whole concern for oppressed peoples bit), and extreme guilt over her privileged and wealthy status (not enough guilt to give up the money of course but enough to provoke condemnation of those of her class less inclined to self-loathing.)

Seventh, one of the tropes of "raised by animals" "noble savage" fiction like Tarzan (and Mowgli for that matter) is that the result would be almost superhuman physical development, strength, and abilities, even in comparison to native human tribesmen growing up in the same place. This is debatable of course, but it it makes a lot more sense than having Jane develop similar physical abilities under Tarzan's tutelage in a matter of WEEKS. Among similar changes, while having Jane be the one to teach Tarzan to read makes MUCH more sense than ERB's Rube Goldberg version that had Tarzan all but inventing language itself, having Jane be the one to teach Tarzan archery because he was apparently too stupid to pick it up from observing the Waziri he'd taken the bow and arrows from in the first place was, again, laughable.

Eighth, though by now I saw it coming, nevertheless I was still reduced to gales of laughter by the Female Chauvinist Theory of Evolution on display in the Mangani/Missing Link tribe, where all evolutionary advances come from the females, except for the male discovery of tool use...

for the purpose of bashing in skulls and making it easier to rape the females, of course. Ironically, a certain amount of this could have been justified as a reaction to history; the early (almost exclusively male) evolutionists were some of the most virulent sexists (and racists) you'd never want to meet. Perfectly understandable if you think about it, European Man couldn't derive much support for assumptions of his superiority from that annoying old Bible, but Evolution offered him what looked like scientific proof, which was a long time dying out.

But finally, the worst thing Robin Maxwell did to our man's man of an old-fashioned hero was to turn him into a sensitive, vulnerable, delicate creature in need of a lot of hugs. Jane takes the death of her father ON THIS EXPEDITION as reported to her by Tarzan a lot more "like a man" than Tarzan takes the death of his parents SIXTEEN YEARS before as revealed by their diary Jane reads to him. A certain toning down of the "strong, silent type" was merely to be expected, but turning Tarzan into a whiny (if one can whine silently, and based on this, methinks one can) emotional basket case, no matter how justified by the modern wizards of our wounded psyches, just makes him into someone I don't really want to read about. Nor can you attribute this to my being a knuckle dragging male chauvinist pig; I review ROMANCE NOVELS for crying out loud! (I don't admit to READING them yet, but that's another issue.) This reaches its apotheosis at the end of Jane's narrative. Those familiar with ERB's books know that one of the somewhat overused plot devices is to separate Jane from Tarzan and see what happens. Though much more a woman of her time than Maxwell's Jane, ERB's Jane is no pathetic princess helplessly in need of rescuing, she does what she can in the given situation, and anyway she'd have to be remarkably tough just to survive what ERB throws at her with her sanity intact. ERB's Tarzan on the other hand is a force of nature that will allow NOTHING to separate him from her, except a misunderstanding about who she's really in love with. In short you did not want to be a member of the army, however large, standing between ERB's Tarzan and Jane. Ms. Maxwell's Tarzan, after getting some idea of the sort of life he might face in Jane's world,...

bails on her like a lazy boyfriend ordered to go out and get a job.

Of course the ending frame story clears a lot of this up and threatens us with a sequel ("The Horror! The Horror!") to explain how we got here, but I won't be reading it if it ever comes out.

I don't recommend reading this book either.
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on November 20, 2012
I really feel a little guilty being in the minority, especially when this book had the potential to be a perfect read. Half way through I had to read other reviews to find out where I was going wrong. Upon finishing it I had to conclude that my fault is that all of us have our own images of certain favorite characters. My Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler for example may not be your Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. I learned this some years ago when I wrote and had published a novel based on a once popular science fiction series. While the majority of readers felt I was spot on, there were a few who felt certain iconic TV characters were not as I had envisioned them. My particular character was not their vision of that person. So I must find myself like one of those few when I say this was not my Jane and not my Tarzan. I know in my heart and soul who they are and that is how they will continue to remain. I read with interest the great support the author received for her research and the support she has from the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. No less a person than the grandson of the great man himself applauds the author. Impressive and certainly to her credit.

2012 of course is the 100th anniversary celebrating Edgar Rice Burroughs having the publication of his first Mars and his first Tarzan stories. I loved the Disney version of The Princess of Mars out earlier this year and regret it did not have the theatrical success it deserved. I am a third generation Burroughs reader having been introduced to the books by parents and grandparents. This I have passed on to my children and grandchildren. I have shelves full of all of the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs as well as books about him and his writing. I read and reread all the Tarzan books as well as many of the others. I am especially pleased with a letter I have from Mr. Burroughs in answer to one I wrote him at age twelve. I had the gall to send him a story idea which he kindly reviewed and wrote back to me with a message I will always treasure. I also loved the Tarzan films, especially Johnny W., however even as a child I was able to put the two Tarzans into alternate universes. In the past I have used both in my classroom teaching. I do not claim to be an expert, certainly not like the ones who the author consulted with. I am just a fan.

Now I will say the book in itself is well written. I do wonder at the author's time in trying to push evolutionary theory as though the debate needed to be here under the cover of a story about the love between Tarzan and Jane. In fact for me it wasted time that could have been better spent in expanding the plot. Frankly, the Jane in the Edgar Rice Burroughs books was just as strong and just as real as the author tried to make her version of Jane. The original Jane was revealed to me as stronger and more real than envisioned in this book. While most of the movie Janes have not been very outstanding, even Maureen O'Sullivan's portrayal was better than this one. Also, there were certain facts about Jane's past as revealed by Burroughs that were distorted in this book. Of course an author has poetic license to bend things when it appears necessary.

I did think it interesting that some of the reviewers giving five stars admitted that they had never read the original books. Consequently they were rating the author and not Edgar Rice Burroughs. Sadly I must confess that my love of Edgar Rice Burroughs prevented me from finding the flavor in his books that should have been in this one. Frankly, for another alternate view that is close to this one and better written is Philip Jose Farmer's novel Tarzan Alive. It is written as an interview by the author of Tarzan himself. I wish I could give more than one star, however I feel I would be insulting what I know deep down was the real
Lord and Lady Greystoke, Mr. and Mrs. John Clayton, or as we remember them best, Tarzan and Jane.
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on November 23, 2012
I recently read "Tarzan of the Apes" for the first time, having read some other Burroughs novels and thought I'd try his most famous hero. I liked the book, but thought Jane was a rather flat character, who couldn't compare to Burroughs' Martian heroine Dejah Thoris. So when I saw this book, I jumped at the chance to read Tarzan from the perspective of a fleshed-out, updated Jane. And I was sorely disappointed. The idea is still good, but not the way this book tackles the story.

There's no love story here. Granted, the one in TotA isn't a big part of the story and it doesn't have a happy ending (at least, not till the sequels), but the way this book was advertised I thought I'd be reading the epic love story of one of literature's great couples. It's only hinted at; I suppose there will be a sequel and then maybe then we'll get that part of the story. The only thing between Jane and Tarzan is raw animal lust. To be expected, I suppose, but I would have liked more development. Tarzan himself is reduced to a supporting character. Jane mostly seems to be fascinated with using him for study and escaping her confined life in England (and Burroughs' Jane is an American! I know the movies tend to portray her as English, but I was surprised Maxwell chose to change her nationality, too). I didn't buy for a moment that she wanted Tarzan for anything other than sex and access to the Mangani for study. Maxwell falls prey to "tell, don't show". Jane is constantly narrating about how different she is from other women, how modern she is, how awesome she is because she's a feminist and an atheist and independent and a university student, but the reader is never shown any actions that make Jane a likable or admirable heroine. She mostly just uses people to get her way, and is rude and insulting to anyone who dares not to share her specific narrow worldview. She is supposed to be a Strong Female Character, but comes off as a Whiny Brat. Even Burroughs' Jane was more likable than that, and she's mostly there to be the pretty love interest.

I didn't care for Maxwell's decision to change aspects of Tarzan's back story. What sense does it make for him to be nearly four years old when his parents are killed? In the original he's still a nursing baby so his survival depended on Kala adopting him. And there is nothing added to the story by having Kerchak assault and murder Tarzan's human mother, except shock value. The Claytons' diary entries were hilarious in their precise narration: Tarzan's father's last line is (paraphrased), "dear God, there are footfalls on the roof!" Yes, because you would take the time to write that down while you were hearing your home invaded by vicious ape-men. Diaries in fiction are usually over-precise, but narrating what's happening to you as it's happening strained my suspension of disbelief too far.

Jane Porter is still a character worth writing about, and someday I hope a book comes along that tells her side of the story properly.
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on January 7, 2013
I read "Jane" twice in one week! It was more fun than I've had with a book in years. Like our stories of Tarzan, there was plenty of adventure in this book to keep me turning pages, but there is also social commentary on the world of that time, the inner dialogue of a woman who was ahead of her time, faced with an alien world and real, honest-to-goodness emotion and spirit, as well as a profound psychological insight into the experience of trauma beyond what most people ever experience. I found it riveting.

I read a review or two by men who found it had too much emotion, inner dialog, etc. One man called Tarzan metrosexual. The truth of the matter for me is that I'm bored to death with endless male adventures that shoot 'em up, but have no human substance. The thrill of this book for me is that it included every part of a grand adventure, including the innner dialog.

I've been an adventurer all my life and have traveled to many amazing places, but it is always the inner experience of the outer adventure that makes the adventure memorable or not. In the end, it is not the actual deed itself, but the experience of that deed that is indelibly written on the mind and heart of human beings.

This book rocks and I've already recommended it to many and posted it on FB.
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on March 18, 2014
I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it either. As an avid fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, I was intrigued to read a tale of Tarzan from Jane's point of view. I had high hopes.

But it was SLOW! This is not an actioner. It is a romance novel. As such, it pales in comparison to the works of ERB. There were parts that were quite good, but parts that were insufferable.

In the end, the main thing that kept me going towards the end was a quote from Burroughs himself: "Without Jane, there is no Tarzan."
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on December 25, 2012
I am always on the lookout for something diffeerent to read, and this book did not disappoint. In the early 1960's I read nearly all of the original Tarzan books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. These books were filled with interesting plots and sub plots, easily distinguishable heroes and villians, and fast paced, impossible to put down-styled writing. Robin Maxwell's "Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan" is written in much the same style. Those who have read and enjoyed the Tarzan books are sure to be captivated by this book's fluid writing, descriptive and lush narrative, and its tender sense of sacrifice and loss. The mere fact that Maxwell tackled this story from Jane's point of view is enough to garner great interest in this book. A true original and well worth the time you might invest in reading it. I'm a bit surprised that this book did not have greater advance notice, but once word gets around "Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan" will probably get the acclaim it deserves, and don't be surprised if Hollywood shows interest in a film version.
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on April 4, 2014
Was really looking forward to Jane's story; daughter of a Virginia slave owner (who lost his plantation in the Civil War), raised by the p.i. "black Mammy", gold digger - at least in the first novel - to living smack dab in the middle of a village of savage Africans and an even more savage husband. I wanted to know how this woman became the Jane who, in Jewels of Opar, pretends to succom to a rapist only to stab him to death with his own knife. No "fate worse than death" for Jane. It's "Try to rape me, you DIE!" I wanted to know how she became the Jane who survived alone in the jungles of Pal-ul-don in Tarzan the Terrible, even making her own weapons who Tarzan (who does not rescue Jane, he accidently comes across her tree house) her admitted were as good as his own. How did she become the Jane who, in Tarzan's Quest, faces down a charging leopard, rapid-firing arrow after arrow until the beast trying to steal her kill is dead. That's the Jane novel I want to read. To me this thing read like a bad novelization of a bad Tarzan sex redo of the Bo Derek dreck.
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on November 4, 2012
I was intrigued by the premise, the story of Jane meeting Tarzan from her point of view. I had envisioned the retelling of the original book from Jane's perspective and recollection. Instead I get an entirely new story that has slim resemblance and very little connection with the original book. In this version of the story, among other contradictions, Jane takes all the credit for educating Tarzan and D'Arnot is only a passing reference. Very disappointing.

This is the second book recently released by the ERB family that retells the Tarzan story and differently from the original,the other being "Tarzan the Greystoke Legacy" which was an even greater disappointment.

So, if you have never read any of the ERB originals and your main frame of reference about Tarzan is the films, then this may be an interesting read for you. For diehard fans of the books, it is pretty much an over hyped waste of time.
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VINE VOICEon August 10, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Robin Maxwell has done both a thrilling and charming job of giving us Jane's saga with Tarzan. As other reviewers have noted, the tale moves slowly at the beginning, but the details add the "why" of how the plight came to be. For a adventure/fantasy, it was plausible and believable up to the last word. This one is a treat worth waiting all these years to savor, but now is the time.
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on September 18, 2012
I love Robin Maxwell's historical fiction novels and so when I heard she wrote this one- historical or not- I jumped on for the ride. I'm so glad I did! Maxwell does not disappoint- what a story! Who would have thought that in today's day and age a story about Tarzan and Jane could still captivate? And- it is historical after all!

Daughter of a scientist and a scientist herself, Jane along with her father and crew (with a certain dispicable Mr. Conrath; you ll have to read the book to find out just how horrible he was...)head for an excursion to Africa where she evidently meets the strong, smart and extremely gorgeous Tarzan. The story begins with Jane's retelling of this fate to the writer, Ed Burroughs...

The novel is filled with incredible details of adaptation, tools, tricks and customs for daily endurance and living, along with descriptions of the wild, and its long lost tribes. Meshed with jungle fury and survival, there is an intriguing story behind it all. How did Tarzan get there? Who raised him? How did he survive? Who else inhabits this jungle? How did they all communicate?

The part I loved most was Jane's gradual inhibition to learning how to survive and become one with her surroundings. How they learned eachother's languages and communicated was also fascinating. And of course there is a love story...Robin Maxwell describes their love affair in exquisite taste- true to the naturalness of the environment itself, love is consumed as would be expected in the realm of the jungle. Passion with genuine love and nurturing, JANE the Woman Who Loved Tarzan is delectably romantic . A quick and most entertaining read ending with a spin that begs for a sequel.

Loved it!
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