More JANE than Tarzan

JaneJane by Robin Maxwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jane has a rip-roaring start when Jane wakes up in Tarzan‘s “nest” and has no idea how she got there.

Unfortunately, after that promise of high jungle adventure, Robin Maxwell immediately takes us forward in time to a boring lecture hall in Chicago. Jane is the lecturer, and Edgar Rice Burroughs is the only person in the audience willing to listen to her description of the “missing link” between Man and Ape. She agrees to go back to his apartment to tell him her story, so of course, we then get a flashback within a flash forward, as she begins to talk to Burroughs.

From that point, Jane speaks directly to the reader in first person. I was hoping to get back to the jungle and Tarzan, but instead she tells us about growing up in England, about her irritating mother and her Wonderful Scientist Father, and his Packard convertible. We hear all about the books she reads, the feminists she admires, her classmates, the cadavers she cuts up, and all the specimens in her father’s lab.

There is another long scene in a lecture hall with Eugene DuBois describing his “Java Man” to an unconvinced Cambridge audience. At that lecture, Jane and her Wonderful Father meet the adventurer and guide (and charlatan) who convinces them to mount an expedition to Africa in search of the “missing link”. Great! Back to Africa and Tarzan. But not right away. First we have to plow though the preparation, packing, and the ocean voyage. We have to hear a full description of the African port of Libreville and be introduced to a former prostitute and a drunken diplomat. And then there are bits and pieces about the wicked Belgian King Leopold that keep cropping up.

A little more than one third of the way through the book Jane finally gets back to where the first chapter started – up in the nest with Tarzan. Her jungle adventure is fast moving and interesting. I won’t spoil it by going into details. I can see it as an Indiana Jones type adventure movie, rated R for violence, sex and nudity.

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