RogerBW's Blog

Mary Reilly, Valerie Martin 14 June 2022

1990 gothic: Mary Reilly is a maid-of-all-work in the establishment of Doctor Henry Jekyll. This will not end well.

That's the plot, really: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as seen by one of the servants, who may be sent out on a dubious errand or two but doesn't see the big important moments. There's potential interest in this change of viewpoint, particularly from power to powerlessness, but Mary begins as a flat character and doesn't become much less so. Is she falling in love with Jekyll? Perhaps so, but she doesn't really understand the idea because she's so traumatised already, so she doesn't know, so we don't know.

The original story bowls along, and while this book isn't long, it has an unfortunate tendency to drag. Mary just doesn't have all that much to say, and she says it at length…

It's interesting and enjoyable, but (perhaps uniquely for me) I think the film adaptation did a better job of being entertaining than the original book.

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Mary Reilly

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