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Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan Hardcover – September 18, 2012
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“Not only is it wildly entertaining and more swoon-worthy and tastefully erotic than Fifty Shades of Grey or any of its knock-offs, but also, Jane has heart and soul. If you are looking for a stellar historical romance and adventure story, Jane should definitely sit on your bookshelf. It has charming and fascinating characters and sociopath villains who scare the living daylights out of you. Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan has positively reinvented the beloved couple for the modern age.” ―The Huffington Post
“Jane is a triumph! A triumph of imagination, adventure, and character. Here we have the true ‘missing link' that we've always wanted--Jane's side of the story.” ―Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth I
“Finally an honest portrayal of the only woman of whom I have been really, really jealous. What a wonderful idea to write this book. Now I am jealous all over again!” ―Jane Goodall PhD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace
“With riveting action and suspense, earthy humor, a piquant look at the debate over evolution, and the love between heroic, resourceful, and tender Tarzan and smart, strong, and passionate Jane, this is lush and satisfying entertainment.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Excitement, danger, labyrinths, pyramids, treasure, and volcanoes abound, as Jane and Tarzan learn to trust and love each other.” ―Library Journal
“Jane Goodall and Isak Dinesen would be right at home with Miss Jane Porter. A respectful, exciting and disarming update of one of the last century's most oft-told tales.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Authentic and compelling, Jane was a book I couldn't put down. Robin Maxwell's talented storytelling ability brought these fabulous characters to life for me. Don't miss this unique and thoroughly enjoyable book!” ―Brenda Novak, New York Times bestselling author of In Close
“My Dad, John Coleman Burroughs, and my Grandad, Edgar Rice Burroughs, would often discuss Tarzan's relation to Jane. `Now there is an idea for a good book....one that really brings Jane into focus,' Grandad would say. Robin Maxwell's book does this brilliantly. Not only do Tarzan and Jane transform into a living, breathing couple who bring the Tarzan saga to new life, but the thrills and adventure leap off the page in the grand tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs himself.” ―John R. Burroughs, Grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs
About the Author
ROBIN MAXWELL is the national bestselling author of eight historical fiction novels featuring powerful women, including Signora da Vinci and the award-winning Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, now in its twenty-fourth printing. She lives in the high desert of California with her husband, yogi Max Thomas.
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This is not so much an origin story but an origin "of the" story and as such was free to deviate from the original ERB story in places. There are a couple of damning reviews that raise a number of arguments about the book that I don't agree are problems with the story but if you are a dyed in the wool Tarzan lover they might cause you to be concerned. I do take issue with one description of Tarzan in this version as "whiny" which I do not at all agree with. Once you accept that he was raised by his human parents to the age of four (instead of one as in the original story) the idea of repressed memories and a more complicated relationship to these memories makes some sense. Plus even the original Tarzan showed a great range of emotion including very demonstrative grief when his ape mother was killed. He was never the grunting monosyllabic character of the old b&w movies. In this version Tarzan hits almost all of the major milestones you might expect, killed a big cat with only a knife, fighting multiple men at once barehanded, and most importantly killing Kerchak the ape-king with his bare hands. Similar to Farmer this author establishes that these are not truly apes but pre-human missing links or near cousins which allows them to have a more complex language and society then they otherwise would have as true apes.
Finally I agree with the reviewer who laments that a sequel is being set up by the way the book ends. But that particular sequel is not needed, ERB created any number of stories that cover those years, the sequel I believe Robin Maxwell should create is the one Burroughs never did, the one near or at the end of Tarzan's life. If we accept the premise that this story is the 'true' story of a life that was fictionalized by Burroughs then Tarzan never receives a potion from a witch doctor he saves that gives him eternal youth. Therefore he and Jane will grow old and die. I would be fascinated as to how a talented writer who loved the characters would handle that story.
3.5 out of 5 stars. I liked Robin Maxwell's try. JANE: THE WOMAN WHO LOVED TARZAN is a feminine spin on Burroughs' origin story of Tarzan. It's told from 20-year-old Jane Porter's first- person perspective, and note that this author has made some sweeping changes in Jane's character. And best to clarify: it's not a retelling of TARZAN OF THE APES, it's a reimagining of it. But since it's done with the endorsement of E.R.B.'s estate, I guess it's copacetic.
The hugest alteration, no surprise, is that Jane Porter gets really fleshed out as a character. Maxwell paints her as someone who thumbs her nose at conformity. Maxwell writes her as a curious, fiercely independent, pioneering female scholar, paleoanthropologist, and adventurer. As a nod to one of E.R.B.'s most favored storytelling conceits, this Jane Porter meets none other than E.R.B. himself during one of her much-ridiculed lectures. As E.R.B. proves to be well-mannered and genuinely interested in her work, she takes him into her confidence, tells him her very improbable story. Thus, we get these bookend chapters, an intro and a coda. The stuff in the middle is one long flashback.
The feminist-minded are gonna rake me over hot coals, but I thought the early chapters of Jane at study in university dragged. There was much attention given to detailing anatomy and the more technical - read: dry - aspects of the study of paleontology, and many scandalous whispers from Jane's colleagues at Cambridge and all else that a **gasp** girl should be exposed to such grotesqueries. I enjoyed the bits with the outrage, not so much the passages that delve into the technical bits. But we get it: Jane Porter is her own girl, the first female to take the class, or, should I say, first female to be permitted to take the class.
Fortuitously, Jane's loving, supporting father is a professor at the university. So, yeah, she had an in.
It's when Professor Porter, Jane, and that American cad, Ral Conrath, set out on a scientific expedition to Africa - and Jane gets pounced on by a leopard - that the book really takes off. Because it's when the ape-man comes in. After which I couldn't put the book down.
Except I just told a fib. Thing is, those really interesting chapters with Jane and Tarzan are interspersed with less interesting chapters of Jane still back in Cambridge trying to kick in that door of opportunity with her plucky liberated woman clichés. I guess I found her portrayal early on pretty ham-fisted.
Given, E.R.B.'s Tarzan mythology comes off as super-fantastical. Unbelievable. Maxwell strives to knock that mythology down closer to earth, more believable. As such, she posits that, instead of apes, it was instead a lost colony of anthropoids - of missing links - that raised Tarzan. And while Tarzan, who is a quick study and an expert mimic, may have been able to pick up a grip of languages by eavesdropping on folks of varying ethnicities as they spoke and then parroting them, Maxwell does away with E.R.B.'s bit about Tarzan's being able to teach himself to read by poring over a collection of baby books his parents had left him and subsequently, er, connecting the dots. That was too much of a stretch.
In the jungle Jane Porter becomes more interesting. Under her feral ape-man's tutelage, she learns how to survive her lethal environs. But theirs is the best sort of relationship; it's an equal partnership that they strike up. There came moments in which Tarzan learned from Jane - like with the toothbrush - or when Jane actively took Tarzan under her wing, such as when she tutored him in the art of archery or, much later on - and here's a **SPOILER ALERT** - when she guided him thru the noxious, urban jungle of London.
While Maxwell did engage in sweeping changes to E.R.B.'s Tarzan mythology, she still maintained points of commonality. Maxwell brings in the Waziri, and I'm okay with how she interprets them. And, while there isn't as much action as I'd hoped, the ape-man's showdown with the terrifying Kerchak just about compensates for it.
JANE: THE WOMAN WHO LOVED TARZAN is worth a look-see. It's an interesting enough read, and, at times, very fascinating. I enjoyed how Maxwell developed Jane and Tarzan's relationship, and, readers should note that theirs morphs into an R-rated relationship, which makes sense in context. Jane is a full-blooded girl who has normal appetites and is very curious about things, and that includes sex. And Tarzan? Tarzan's a guy. So, yeah, there are some explicit scenes.
I wish we'd gotten more of Jane's dad, Professor Archimedes Phinneaus Porter. I would've loved to have seen him interact with Tarzan. And I haven't even mentioned the character I loved best in this book. It's Jai. She's Tarzan's sister. Jai isn't a keen scholar or a wilful feminist trying to break down barriers. But she will break heads if you threaten her brother.
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