Book Review: Robin Maxwell’s Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan

Posted March 11, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Robin Maxwell’s  Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan

on September 18, 2012 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

With the Edgar Rice Burroughs Estate blessing, Maxwell provides us with Jane’s perspective on the Ape-Man who rescued her from certain death.

My Take

This really is good. If you enjoy the Tarzan stories (or movies!), you will enjoy this perspective of an “emancipated” woman of 1905, whose dream of exploring Africa at her father’s side is fulfilled.

Maxwell uses language beautifully: creating a setting for 1905; using the words [of the time] a woman of good family, champing at the restrictive bits of being a woman, would use to express her frustration; and, digging into Jane’s thoughts as she discovers the freedom of being wild in an unEnglish jungle, freedom from the restrictions of her mother and her society, and the freedom of learning what is important to her as a person.

It’s an adventurous blend of H. Rider Haggard, Robinson Crusoe, Burroughs, history, and a scientific journal as we settle into Jane’s head and take this journey into her time period and her adventures.

Using Burroughs in the prologue and the epilogue was brilliant and gave the story a great sense of reality. Maxwell’s starting with the scene in the anatomy lab with the hassle Jane receives from her fellow student was very useful in setting the time’s attitudes towards women.

Maxwell handled Tarzan’s re-learning English very well and the slow reveal on Tarzan’s history as a child.

It’s another instance of bullying being tolerated and all the people it affects. The destruction. The waste!

I find myself wanting to complain about John and Alice. Once they realized their plight, why didn’t they make a stab at leaving? Of course, it would ruin the story and run counter to Burroughs’ original, so I guess I’m complaining about Burroughs. But then, is that fair when such adventure stories were still being “invented” so to speak?

Oh, I love the part where Tarzan and Jane play with the elephants. I want to dive off that cliff and paddle around under their bellies and around their legs…sigh…

Mmmm, loose thread. Just when did Jane (or Tarzan) retrieve the notebook??

Jane did irritate me a bit with her worries over how Tarzan would survive in civilization. I mean, duh, go and try it. If he doesn’t like it, if Jane doesn’t like it, nothing says they can’t come back to Africa.

Arghhh, the ending was a total pain. Oh, it was happy enough, but Maxwell left out the reunion… I do hate it when the author makes me fill in such gaps. I love using my own imagination to picture the people, the settings, the style of dress, the architecture…BUT NOT the damned story! Makes me want a sequel…ahem.

The Story

Jane is happiest when roaming the fields on her horse Leicester with her dogs or in the laboratory with her father. When the opportunity to accompany her father on his latest expedition to Africa arises, Jane is quick to pack.

It’s a trip that will open her eyes to truths about her mother, the society from which she comes to that which she embraces, and about love.

The Characters

Jane Porter is the twenty-year-old daughter of Professor Archimedes “Archie” Phinneaus Porter, the professor of anatomy at Cambridge University, who is an enthusiastic supporter of Darwin’s theories.

Tarzan, a.k.a., John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, was raised by the Mangani, a species that excites Jane tremendously. John and Alice Clayton, Lord and Lady Greystoke, were Tarzan’s parents. Their story is heartbreaking. Kala is his foster mother; Jai his foster sister. Kerchak is the insane leader of the Mangani. Mr. Grey helps keep watch over Jane.

Chief Waziri and Ulu, the charm doctor, are of the Waziri tribe.

Ral Conrath is an enthusiastic supporter of Dubois’ find and easily charms Mrs. Porter. Paul D’Arnot is the translator hired in Freetown. Yabi is the native Mbele guide.

Captain Kelly is enthusiastic about free women who can think for themselves. Mrs. Cecily Fournier is the widow in Freetown who has Jane stay with her when they first arrive — and gives her good advice. Mr. Barry is the man interested in Cecily.

Edgar Rice Burroughs is the original creator of the Tarzan stories. A lovely homage to a very inventive writer. Eugène Dubois found Java man and is a friend of Professor Porter. Professor Ernst Haeckel, a zoologist and comparative anatomist, is also supportive.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a wide range of greens with the suggestion of newsprint in the scratchings as a feral, leather-clad Jane, framed in by the jungle, stares out at us, one leg poised to spring from the branch. Nothing will get by this woman whom Tarzan has taught.

The title is succinct, for she is Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan.