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From the acclaimed author of the bestselling Italian Fever comes a fresh twist on the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, a novel told from the perspective of Mary Reilly, Dr. Jekyll's dutiful and intelligent housemaid.

Faithfully weaving in details from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, Martin introduces an original and captivating character: Mary is a survivor–scarred but still strong–familiar with evil, yet brimming with devotion and love. As a bond grows between Mary and her tortured employer, she is sent on errands to unsavory districts of London and entrusted with secrets she would rather not know. Unable to confront her hideous suspicions about Dr. Jekyll, Mary ultimately proves the lengths to which she'll go to protect him. Through her astute reflections, we hear the rest of the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, and this familiar tale is made more terrifying than we remember it, more complex than we imagined possible.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on Feb 13, 2013
ISBN: 9780307833877
List price: $11.99
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I read this book years ago when it first came out and reread it now for a course I am teaching. It's the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, told from the viewpoint of a young Irish housemaid. In Stevenson's novel, there are hardly any women, and those who do appear are pretty much part of the furniture. By creating a female narrator who works in Jekyll's household, Martin opens up the novel to other themes, including the Victorian patriarchy, the social hierarchy, hidden sexuality, the craving for safety. She also allows her characters greater psychological depth. Mary is depicted as a strong girl, made stronger by enduring years of abuse from her father. She knows her place yet can't help but be stirred by the apparent interest of her kind, elderly employer. Despite her revulsion, she is also attracted to Dr. Jekyll's assistant, the crude and violent Mr. Hyde--mainly because of what he seems to mean to Jekyll. I enjoyed the novel--but not as much as I did the first time. Thankfully, it was new to all of my students. I found it interesting that most of the men preferred Stevenson's fairly straightforward approach to the story, while the women preferred Martin's more complex approach. They are writing papers on the two books, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to say.read more
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I read this immediately after reading "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and it made a very interesting companion piece. Martin is a really great writer, and I look forward to reading more of her work.read more
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an interesting take, i read this when it came out back in the 90's. not my favorite work, and I wouldn't say Martin is going to reinvent gothic literature or our understanding of women in it. An interesting attempt, nonetheless.read more
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I read this book years ago when it first came out and reread it now for a course I am teaching. It's the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, told from the viewpoint of a young Irish housemaid. In Stevenson's novel, there are hardly any women, and those who do appear are pretty much part of the furniture. By creating a female narrator who works in Jekyll's household, Martin opens up the novel to other themes, including the Victorian patriarchy, the social hierarchy, hidden sexuality, the craving for safety. She also allows her characters greater psychological depth. Mary is depicted as a strong girl, made stronger by enduring years of abuse from her father. She knows her place yet can't help but be stirred by the apparent interest of her kind, elderly employer. Despite her revulsion, she is also attracted to Dr. Jekyll's assistant, the crude and violent Mr. Hyde--mainly because of what he seems to mean to Jekyll. I enjoyed the novel--but not as much as I did the first time. Thankfully, it was new to all of my students. I found it interesting that most of the men preferred Stevenson's fairly straightforward approach to the story, while the women preferred Martin's more complex approach. They are writing papers on the two books, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to say.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I read this immediately after reading "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and it made a very interesting companion piece. Martin is a really great writer, and I look forward to reading more of her work.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
an interesting take, i read this when it came out back in the 90's. not my favorite work, and I wouldn't say Martin is going to reinvent gothic literature or our understanding of women in it. An interesting attempt, nonetheless.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a fabulous story about one of Dr Jekyll's domestic staff - Mary Reilly. It cleverly weaves in extracts from Robert Louis Stevenson's `Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. The length may seem short but Valerie Martin packs a lot into this story. All of the characters are wonderful and with Martin's eye for detail the imagery brings the household to life. I haven't read the original story, but know of the plot and I found it entertaining and enthralling to read about it from one of the original characters. It's a bit like looking at a painting and wondering about what really when on behind the story. Even the way in which writers of the time would put lines after the initial for street names etc has been adopted by Martin, giving it a authentic feel time wise. The ending makes you reflect on what life genuinely must've been like for domestic staff at that time and I would certainly go on to read the original classic itself plus more by the author herself. Several pleasant hours whiled away with this book. It felt authentic of it's time even by the layout and chapter dividings, let alone everything else the author succeeded with
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I knew the basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but hadn't read Robert Louis Stevenson's classic before reading this book. It's not necessary though--not with that book being so much part of popular culture. You just need to know that Dr. Jekyll, who seems a kind, philanthropic physician is also Mr. Hyde, a monster of depravity let loose by a potion. Knowing just that, you can get the richness and irony of seeing this story from the point of view of a young Irish maid in Dr. Jekyll's service. So yes, this is fanfic of the classic type, such as Jean Rhy's Wild Sargasso Sea, based upon Jane Eyre, that takes a minor (or in this case, I think) an imagined character and subverts and/or illuminates the original. While I don't think this is quite the work of enduring literature that Rhy's book is, neither is this some trashy read. It's quite well-written and a surprisingly affecting story, told in a great first person voice and with well-done period detail. The books stands well on its own.
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A must read companion to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The author provides a unique viewpoint which adds even more dimension to Stevenson's classic story.
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