Author: Robin Maxwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: N/A (possible sequel)
Trade Paperback, 320 pagesPublication: September 18th 2012 by Tor Books
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Cambridge, England: 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat, dissecting corpses, than she is in a corset and gown, sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of travelling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientiﬁc hero, Charles Darwin.
When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father on an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Rising to the challenge, Jane ﬁnds an Africa that is every bit exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined. But she quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets—and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane ﬁnds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.
I never read any of the Tarzan books, so everything I know about Tarzan and Jane were learn/seen from popular reference/culture. The year is 1912 and Jane Porter our main heroine is giving a lecture about the missing link between men and apes at a Chicago Public Library. The crowd is heckling her as she gives her speech because she’s a woman. Amongst the crowd sits Edgar Rice Burroughs who is enthralled with Jane and invites her over for tea, it is during tea that Jane tells Edgar the story of her life.
I don’t read much historical-fiction but I was really interested in reading this book because it’s the first book written for Jane, and was authorized by the Burroughs estate. The book is told in the first person narrative, and the story jumps back and forth through the years. Jane talks about her life in school working towards becoming a paleoanthropologist, Jane on her adventures to Africa where she meets Tarzan and after she leaves Africa. I didn’t like how the story jumped back and forth, it kind of felt all over the place a bit. The beginning of the book felt extremely slow, and felt like I had to push myself to continue with the story. The story didn’t really pick up till the end, probably the last third of the book. I felt the scenes with Tarzan were the most interesting compared to everything else like Jane’s academia which was a tad boring or the descriptive jungle that was painted (pretty, much I can only take so much description). Jane was an okay character, certainly a headstrong woman but there were many times where I found her to be annoying. She comes off big headed; it was either her way or no way (she thinks she’s always right). The ending was quite a surprise, leaving an opening for a possible sequel perhaps?
This was a well-written book, and you can definitely tell Maxwell knows her craft (having written plenty of historical fiction novels). Overall a good book (2.5 stars for story/overall book but 3 for it being well-written), but the story’s pace was too slow…like snail slow, not a lot of action and a little too feminist for my taste. I’d still recommend this to anyone who wants to read about Tarzan in a different retelling and in a woman’s perspective.
FTC disclaimer: Tor Books provided me with a copy of Jane, and in return I provide an honest review.