Friday, 16 December 2011

Friday Recommends #13

So it's Friday again, and that means another exciting Friday Recommends!
This is an exciting book blog hop that book bloggers can take part in once a week to share with their followers, the books that they most recommend reading!

The rules for Friday Recommends are:
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book that you've read, and have enjoyed enough to recommend to other readers. It can be a book you've read recently, or a book you read years ago - it's up to you - but make sure you tell us why you love the book (like a mini review). You make the post as long or as short as you like.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post after posting your blog post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper ( somewhere in your post.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin

Goodreads synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of the 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 unsavoury districts of London and entrusted with secrets she would rather not know...

When I decided to read Mary Reilly at the beginning of this year, I chose to read it then because I had only recently finished reading the original from which this book was born - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so I would still recall it in detail for when I read this.
I really loved the original, so I was hoping that this would live up to the talents of its parent.

Martin's adaptation of Stevenson's novella was really, truly wonderful. As a previous reviewer stated: "it faithfully weaves in original details", but as well as this, it also bring Mary's character gloriously to life. Her character was absolutely believable, which was a relief because this was one of the elements I thought might be the downfall of the novel. Although there are obviously new events in this novel that do not take place in the original (as we are seeing it from a different perspective and Jekyll's interaction with his maids is not bought into detail in the original), the details of the main event definitely correspond with the original story, which makes it even more believable as a true re-telling of the same story.

Martin's language is also particularly expressive, which, for me at least, drew me into the novel immediately and kept a fairly firm grip of my attention. This expressive language is another element that brings the story and characters to life for me - the descriptions of the world around Mary, of the house and of Mr Jekyll himself creates such a clear image in my mind that the characters may as well just walk off the pages and into reality. The view of the world that Mary sees through her eyes, is also what I saw through mine, making for an exceptional experience of Stevenson's original works. This is something I feel the original did not achieve, and that Martin has definitely refined and improved the story, in a way, because of this.

The relationship between Mary Reilly and Dr. Jekyll is a fairly interesting one. I'm not going to tell you too much about it because I want everyone who has read the original to pick this up for themselves - but in the original, the reader is not given any sense the Jekyll has a close relationship at all with his members of staff. Martin, on the other hand paints a different picture. The relationship between the two is a strange one (which is fitting considering the full title of the original), Mary becoming so close to her master that she will end up getting tangled in the events to follow.

This is a truly satisfying novel, particularly for fans of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and one I honestly recommend reading. I very much doubt that you'll be disappointed!


Shah Wharton said...

hey - I haven't read your recommendation, but I did see the movie, which I enjoyed thoroughly. The title is so deceptive too :D x

Tanya Patrice said...

I haven't read this one either - sounds really good though - and definitely an interesting perspective. And btw - I love this meme

Vinci said...

As I enjoyed the book and agree with your
comments that Mary Reilly was believeable.
Just love that period of history. did not know
that the writer wrote the Orange Prize winning Property. Will check it out thanks for the mention.

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