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Mary Reilly Paperback – April 10, 2001


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Mary Reilly + The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375725997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375725999
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mary Reilly, housemaid and devoted friend of Dr. Henry Jekyll, senses pk that something is dreadfully wrong with the weary and laboratory-obsessed scientist, who has hired Edward Hyde as his assistant. ``Spare and atmospheric, this story is a dark, absorbing symphony; Mary Reilly is an unforgettable character,'' PW said.

Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This retelling of the enigmatic Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde tale deserves praise for suspense, character creation, and historical verisimilitude. Mary Reilly, a loyal, trusted servant in the household of Dr. Jekyll records in her diary the mysterious circumstances which lead to her Master's tragic fate. The hierarchy of social classes, relationships among servants and domestics, and details of language and dress enhance this marvelous re-creation with the realism of Dickens. Mary represents the apex of devotion, goodness, and honesty, in contrast to the dual nature and complexity of Dr. Jekyll, whose shadow side threatens to destroy all bounds of decency, law, and order. Less convincing is the tinge of romance between Mary and Jekyll. Most compelling is a forceful consciousness about the dual propensity of human nature and the awesome power which is ours. BOMC featured alternate; Quality Paperback Book Club selection. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/89.
- Addie Lee Bracy, Beaver Coll. Lib., Glenside, Pa.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The events of the story as well as its observed texture are impeccably researched.
Society Nineteen
It is a fictional take on another NOVEL, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Patricia P. Taylor
I did feel that the book is a long read, even though it is a fairly clear and easy one.
Thomas K. Ng

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Patricia P. Taylor on October 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Valerie Martin may be one of the two or three most accomplished writers of fiction of our time. She may also be the most misunderstood. It's rare that I take exception to other reviews here, but the most recent ones posted about Mary Reilly are so sadly misinformed, they need addressing. To begin with, to the reader who wasn't sure, the book is a NOVEL, not a history. It is a fictional take on another NOVEL, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. To the reader who was confused by the movie: the movie was so egregiously awful I tell everyone never to see it. It helps to have read Stevenson's novel, but not necessary at all. Mary Reilly was out of print for some years, a publishing sin, and it's right and proper it's been returned to the public. The novel is, simply put, perfectly constructed. Read it once for the powerful story of a doomed domestic and her equally doomed employer, then read it again for the poetic spareness and emotional wallop of the language. The opening chapter, a letter Mary writes to Dr. Jekyll about her subjection to one of the most catastrophic cases of child abuse you could imagine, sets up the framework for the novel. Mary's father nearly ruined her because she broke a cup. Much later, Mr. Hyde nearly rapes her--as he's breaking a cup. The duality of the images throughout the book mirrors the duality of Dr. Jekyll's spirit, as well as dualities in life and philosophy multiplying in the Jekyll household. The gardening episodes which so bored one reader are a subtle symbol of the creation theme: so much work to create, so little time to destroy. They also mark the difference between Mary and Jekyll. She creates good, he creates evil, although unwittingly.

The plot follows two lines: the unuttered romantic love between Mary and Dr.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Danusha V. Goska on December 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Mary Reilly" is a very smooth and stylish read. It goes down easily. Martin creates a sustained mood of low level suspense.

I cared enough about this book to have been disappointed by the ending, though.

I'd still recommend the book, for its powerful and appealing heroine, and its stylish evocation of Victorian-Gothic Romance -- three contrasting historical periods, but one fun literary genre.

Warning! This review will hint at the book's ending, but will not spell it out. If you are familiar with Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide," on which "Mary Reilly" is based, you won't learn anything new.

"Mary Reilly" has one of the most riveting openings I've ever read, if not the most. It's a description of an episode of child abuse.

For the first time in my life, I was hooked from the very first line of a novel, and could not put the book down. I had to know what happened to that child -- even though, of course, since the child is the Mary Reilly of the title, I knew that she would survive.

Martin doesn't plunge to the depths of child abuse, but she writes of the surface with such power that I had the feeling that I was in the hands of a master.

Martin deeply impressed me with the terror and vulnerability of the abused child, as well as that child's resilience and drive to survive, and the twisted sadism of the abuser. All in a very few brief words and pages.

But that's just the opening pages.

The bulk of the book is made up of Reilly's crush on her "Master," Dr. Henry Jekyll. Reilly's history of having been an abused child is mentioned as part of the reason why Mary has this crush; like her master, Mary has a horrible, hidden wound that drives her apart from the rest of society.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sammy Madison on March 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a book about addiction and the binding power of abusive relationships. Martin's writing is gothic and atmospheric, but it would be a shame to read this book as a thriller, a romance, or a sermon on the evils of the class system in Victorian England and miss out on the main point of the book. What Martin is saying about substance abuse is that the addiction is not to getting high, or to enjoying the substance itself, the addiction is to letting out the inner beast. Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde are both present in all abusers, who use substances to let out the evil inside their souls (not to get rid of it, to enjoy using it). Mary's father used alcohol to let out his demons, and Dr. Jeckyl used his experiments. Women like Mary are bound to them by loyalty, family ties, and love. This is a very deep book and will make you think!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ymguzman@hotmail.com on September 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Certain aspects of this book are really impressive. The first-person narrator, Mary Reilly, tells the story in an understated, controlled tone that lends believability to the fantastic events. Perhaps even more important, as a character she is fascinating: a woman with an intensely disturbing past and a humble present, she is damaged yet likable, and full of odd but understandable tendencies, like her desire to record her negative feelings for her abusive father in a journal, so she won't forget one day in old age. And it's an intriguing process she undergoes as she simultaneously comes to terms with her hard feelings and begins to ignore the Victorian constraints of the era and express her affection (in subtle ways, of course) for her "master." No alter-ego for Mary; she's ultimately able to face her darkness and apparently is better off for it.
However, in my opinion, this book can't decide whether it wants to be a thriller about a mad scientist or a story about a woman's psychosexual odyssey and, ultimately, it fails at both. Mary's character grows but her story tapers off in a skimpy conclusion. As for Dr. Jeckyll, you never really find out what he was up to in that laboratory. After having read, in my paperback copy, dozens of excerpts from gushing newspaper reviews, I was disappointed.
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