Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You Tarzan, Jane Kick-Ass

Expected Publication: September 18th, 2012
Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
By: Robin Maxwell
Tom Doherty Associates
ISBN-13: 9780765333599

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 paleontologist, Jane dreams of travelling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientist 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 as beautiful 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.


   Jane Porter is a woman ahead of her time.  Instead of being the consummate lady of the early post-Victorian era, she is brash and curious about everything life offers to men, but withholds from women.  Jane is a student at Cambridge and the only female in the University's medical program.  She participates in labs and corpse dissections, dreaming of the day that she go on expeditions like her Father who is a professor and palentologist looking for the missing link.  There is a lot of tension between Jane and her Mother, because she sees her daughter as being an old maid and completely improper.  Jane jumps at the chance to escape from the stifling conventions of her life when she and her Father, Archie, meet a dashing explorer at a scientist's convention who is heading an expedition to West Africa.  Jane manages to convince her Father that she should be allowed to go and her Mother, being completely charmed by the explorer Ral Conrath, agrees to let her go along.  Excited and disbelieveing, Jane is astonished by the beauty and native cultures of Africa.  But the further into the jungle they go, the more apparent it becomes that Conrath has very different reasons for the expedition that the Porters.  When she is attacked and nearly killed, Jane is rescued by Tarzan who heals her and shows her his world.  Raised by the apes, Tarzan is different from anything Jane ever imagined.  Determined to find her Father and expose Conrath for the monster that he really is, Jane learns to survive and fight for her life in the harshness of the jungle.  All the while she is confused by the feelings she is developing for Tarzan, who goes against every rule of propriety she was ever taught.  Can Jane rescue her Father, get rid of Conrath, come to terms with her emotions and find the missing link in the evolutionary chain?  But will it be what she imagined when she finally gains her answers?  This to my knowledge has never been done before: the story of Tarzan, from Jane's point of view.  It was interesting to me that it started out with Jane's life in England, giving the backstory of her semi-radical behavior and very proper upbringing.  I loved all the science speak.  So much paleoanthropology and I loved that Mr. Porter was friends with Eugene Dubois, who was brilliant but much scorned during his lifetime.  All of the anthro-speak might be a bit much if the reader isn't interested in it to begin with, but I enjoyed it.  Jane is a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants - most of the time.  She has conflicting emotions because of all the 'proper' things she should do, versus what she knows to be right for her heart.  The whole Ral Conrath situation disgusted me.  But I was able to really understand how Jane and Archie were fooled by his charming facade, only learning the truth AFTER it was too late to turn back.  The interactions of Jane with Tarzan and his ape family really allowed me to see her grow as a character, not to mention it was fascinating to see the communication system that Maxwell devised.  This book was one that I truly enjoyed.  The idea that Jane is narrating the story, telling it to Edgar Rice Burroughs made me smile.  It was fun, fresh and well-written.  Major props to Robin Maxwell, my only real complaint being the way the plot dragged slightly at times.  Highly recommended, even if you've never read any of the original Tarzan stories.  You won't regret it! :)

VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is September 18th, 2012.*

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