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Mary Reilly [Paperback]

Valerie Martin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

15 Jan 2004

From the acclaimed author of Orange Prize winning PROPERTY 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; Reprint edition (15 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349117810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117812
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The finest novel I read all year. (Patrick Garland, DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Valerie Martin . . has succeeded marvelously in writing a new and deeply moving psychological drama. It is a breathtaking achievement. (EVENING CHRONICLE)

A totally absorbing tale that scores in tone, style and atmosphere (TIME OUT)

A clever, complex book that in no way lessens the original (OBSERVER)

Book Description

* A fascinating twist to the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It wasn't the first time I'd been shut up in the closet, if closet isn't too grand a word for the little cupboard under the stairs. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
In a twist on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic The Strange Tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde some of the events are given from a new angle in this well-written and intriguing novel. Mary Reilly is a servant girl working in the household of the eponymous doctor. The novel opens with an account of her life at the hands of a drunken and cruel father and this part of her life serves as a contrast to the growing bond between Dr Jekyll and his servant girl.

The style of the journal entries written by Mary Reilly, this barely literate but highly imaginative and intelligent servant, gives veracity to her version of events. It is a short but engrossing read, never once slipping from the historically inch-perfect tone or taking the story further than the original was prepared to go. It is a respectful, but enlivening treatment and makes an admirable addition to the breadth and range of this very good writer. Winner of the Orange Prize a few years ago (for Property, the story of a slave and mistress in the American South), Valerie Martin has a cool and composed gift for adventurous fiction. She is a writer with a talent for bringing to life a time and place far distant from our own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By lovemurakami TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
This is a beautifully crafted novel showing us another view of Stevenson's classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Valerie Martin has created a credible character in Mary Reilly, a young housemaid in Dr. Jekyll's household. The tragic tale is told from Mary's viewpoint, she becomes drawn into Jekyll's tragedy, supporting and helping her master who she loves as he actually engages Mary in dialogue and is interested in Mary's view of the world.

We are given glimpses into the world of the household and how servants operated within the Victorian house. Martin gives us vivid descriptions of London itself with it's overcrowding, poverty, dirt and danger.

This is a beautifully executed novel which is perfectly crafted and a sheer delight to read. Well worth it, in fact it deserves more credit than it gets.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great twist 2 Mar 2008
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary Reilly 7 July 2014
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
In late Victorian London, we read Mary’s Journal. The first memory we share of Mary is her narrating of how her brutish father locked her in a cupboard for punishment, and then put in with her a rat in a sack. The rat savaged Mary so that she was hospitalised, and when she came home her father had gone and her mother raised her. Mary is now in her twenties and in service to her “Master” – it’s not until a fair way in the book that we learn his name. Master works hard, often in his laboratory out the back of the house where the servants are not allowed to enter. All the servants are happy in their Master’s employ, but Mary is given the opportunity to speak with him when he starts a conversation with her about her scars. When Master sends Mary with a message to a disreputable woman in a shabby part of town, Mary starts to unravel the story of her Master, but she’s not at all sure it’s a story she wants to learn. And who is the Master’s mysterious assistant, Mr Edward Hyde?

This was a great novel; a great story and well told – refreshed, revitalised, a new look at a story that we all think we know so well. Mary’s tale is told sympathetically, compassionately; and the reader is left thinking how much we could ever really know of someone that we think we are so familiar with. Great stuff.
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