Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin

A servant whose devotion becomes all encompassing suffers true pain by witnessing the disintegration of Dr. Henry Jekyll

I really liked this extraordinarily well crafted novel, a monochromatic study of repressed feelings. The first scene is vivid and memorable – a bloody hand drawing the reader into the story and not letting you up for air. There’s not a false word in the entire book. I liked how we really got a detailed idea of a servant’s duties in Victorian England, working from sun up to sun down. This particular servant lights a lot of fireplaces. The extreme realism of the voice makes the unlikely premise – that the evil part of Dr. Jekyll has taken on a physical existence, completely believable. This narrator works very hard at being good – she completely trusts Dr. Jekyll – that’s why she can’t believe what is in front of her eyes. She won’t let herself believe that he has this capability for evil inside him.

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