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Mary Reilly

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,380 ratings  ·  218 reviews
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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 15th 2004 by Abacus (first published 1990)
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Joan This is a bit of the author's sense of humor, as it is stated in the front of the book that all characters and events are fictional. She's adding a bi…moreThis is a bit of the author's sense of humor, as it is stated in the front of the book that all characters and events are fictional. She's adding a bit of credulity to the story, as if she is reporting on the events that took place, as well as adding a bit of "history", rather than being just the author of an incredulous story!(less)

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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  2,380 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”Are you afraid of yourself, Mary?” Master said.

The room was silent about us, but for the clock ticking, which seemed to me loud of a sudden. I thought a long time might pass before I answered but Master and I would not know it, for we was both of us waiting to hear what I would say. At first I thought I would say no, for it seemed a strange thing to be afraid of myself, but then I thought he must mean afraid of what I might do, or might say, rather than what I am and what I see in the mirror. A
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic
This is a wonderful illumination of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, told from the perspective of the housemaid. Valerie Martin somehow inhabits the original at the same time she makes it new, and the result is a fresh gothic tale that's steeped in the original horror. Martin is an incredibly sure-handed writer, and her prose sings. ...more
Linda Palmer
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because I liked the movie so much and figured there would be details not revealed on the screen. The movie is fairly faithful, so there weren't that many surprises, but I still recommend the book for a lot of reasons.

First, it paints such a rich picture of the times. I could tell that Ms. Martin had done her research. Particularly fascinating to me were the details of a life in service to others. Mary, a maid in Dr. Jekyl's house (yes, that Dr. Jekyl) stays busy from dawn until
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
Found this story quite drawn out and rather repetitive. Enjoyed the first part of the book, then it dragged in the middle only picking up again in the final pages. If Mary cleaned one fireplace out she must have cleaned a hundred! Very tedious. Not quite what I was hoping for and certainly can’t be called ‘horror’ in my opinion.
Justine Jones
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Are you ever afraid of yourself? Sometimes the things that scare us the most are the things living within our own minds. Henry Jekyll lives in the silence between words spoken and unspoken, the same place desire, lust, and contempt live and the place where Mary finds herself.
The original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story was about the anxiety of man giving birth to a future they could never understand nor control and therefore feared, much like our own modern fears concerning artificial intelligenc
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I read this. I remember thinking that it was an interssting take on Jekyll and Hyde. It was pretty tragic, not only the original story as such, but also Mary's life in general. It was not the most gripping read, but a solid read at the time. ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I waited to read this until I had read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which I had never read until just recently. I was surprised at how different that was from the several movies and the musical which I have seen. So I was anxious to read this retelling of Jekyll and Hyde shortly after reading the original. I was very pleased with how very closely this novel follows the original. This story has been fascinating people for over a century and it is still fascinating to me after readi ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
The classic story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is retold through the journal writings of the housemaid, Mary Reilly. Mary was physically and emotionally abused by her father as a child, which has left scars on both her person and her psyche. She appreciates that she is very lucky to have her position in the Jekyll household and is a very loyal and hard-working servant who understands her station in life. If she should forget, the butler, Mr Poole, is always there to remind her.
She is therefore rath
Suzanne Fox
A bit hampered in terms of suspense by its nature as a variation on an existing text, but a compelling book nonetheless. I re-read recently (looking forward to Martin's January release of a novel about the doomed ship Mary Celeste) and enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Most powerful of Martin's novel's many strengths is its voice, which is compelling, consistent and convincing. It can be tricky to narrate a book through the "journals," which can be hard to make at once novelistically e
Peter Vicaire
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I recently read this one back-to-back with the original "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". I was halfway through "Jekyll" when the Boston Marathon bombings took place so until I finished the book, it carried with it for me a heavier internalization of the good/evil duality of man - especially when interviews of friends on the news played the same stories over and over about how they were "nice guys" and everyone was so surprised that they could do such a thing. "Mary Reilly" ended up bei ...more
Ashley Marie
As much as I love the story of Jekyll & Hyde, I've never actually read the source material. I've heard variations of the story for years, from the Wishbone version when I was a kid to the Wildhorn/Bricusse musical and now this retelling. Every version seems to fill in a new space and add something new to the whole mythos, and I love that.

Mary's voice is very distinct, not in the least thanks to her imperfect (and sometimes inconsistent) speech and writing patterns. Early on in the book she was
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved the chances Martin took with this plot and the characters. Most don't realize she's one of the writers who sparked the trend to write about fringe characters in famous novels. ...more
Matthew White Ellis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Mary Reilly is a haunting and captivating novel based on the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The author, Valerie Martin, wrote this from the perspective of Dr. Jekyll's housemaid, Mary Reilly. This novel was nominated for the Nebula Award in 1990 and the World Fantasy Awards in 1991. Despite its fairly short length, the novel is quite complex - it's a like a Victorian psychological thriller. Mary is portrayed as a sensitive, hard-working maid, scarred by abuses from the past, but with a ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What fun! One of the joys of my Little Free Library is coming across gems like this. I love novels that retell famous stories from a minor character's perspective (like Longbourn), and this was a page-turner. ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kristina by: Amy Woodbury Tease
Shelves: neo-victorian
I liked this slim novel told from the perspective of the maid in Dr. Jekyll's house. I loved the descriptions of Mary's work (for some reason I enjoy descriptions of housework -- which is funny because I certainly don't like doing it) and Mary's voice was very distinct -- I feel as if I can still hear it in my head (part of the reason I plan to avoid the movie). The period details were really interesting, especially about funerals (my only complaint historically is that at one point, Jekyll asks ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Mary Reilly" approaches the hoary tale of "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde" from a different angle: the story is told from behind the scenes, as it were, through the eyes of Henry Jeckyll's intelligent, devoted servant girl.

This novel is a fascinating mixture of historical fiction and literary extrapolation, and it works far better than any book of it's type that I have ever read (Including Geraldine Brooks' "March", which was a Pulitzer Prize winner"). From the beginning, Martin drew me in with her s
Tiffany Hall
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In a world of simplicity, Dr. Jekyll pushes the boundaries of society and one woman has a front row seat to the tantalizing mystery that surrounds the good doctor. Mary Reilly works for well-to-do doctor who is obsessed with the secret work he does in his laboratory. He becomes fascinated with Mary's life and views of the world. They soon grow to have a deep bond of trust through meaningful, secret conversations. Mary begins to feel admiration, and maybe something more, for the good doctor but s ...more
I read this book because I enjoyed Valerie Martin's "The Confessions of Edward Day" and I wanted to read another book by this author. This story is the retelling of Robert Louis Stevensen's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" from the perspective of Mary Reilly, a very perceptive housemaid in the house of Dr. Jekyll. I especially liked this bool after having read "The Confessions of Edward Day." In "The Confessions," the narrator may or may not be reliable. He has a doppleganger, who is is clearly a sourc ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I knew the basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but hadn't read Robert Louis Stevenson's classic before reading this book. It's not necessary though--not with that book being so much part of popular culture. You just need to know that Dr. Jekyll, who seems a kind, philanthropic physician is also Mr. Hyde, a monster of depravity let loose by a potion. Knowing just that, you can get the richness and irony of seeing this story from the point of view of a young Irish maid in Dr. Jekyll's service. ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Though they're worlds apart stylistically, it's helpful to think of Mary Reilly standing in relation to Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea does to Bronte's Jane Eyre, in that they're both unexpected and compelling retellings of famous work that depend very little on their source material but manage to kick ass firmly on their own merits. I almost wonder if Martin didn't have Bronte a bit in mind when she wrote this, as Mary very much is Jane Eyre, dow ...more
Dec 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Mary Reilly is a maid in the home of Dr. Henry Jekyll. (Yeah, that Dr. Jekyll.) The novel is Mary's journals and covers the years she spent working in his house. Mary's father was cruel and abusive. She's not quite withdrawn, but she knows her "place" and staying in her place gives her a sense of security. Dr. Jekyll makes her feel secure as well. He's kind to her and recognizes her intelligence.

My only complaint about the book is that it stopped when the story of Dr. Jekyll stopped. I came to k
Rhiannon Hart
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A retelling of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde from the housemaid's point of view. I was hunting for a historical film to watch when I was feeling unwell recently and came across the film. The reviews said it was awful, so I didn't bother, but that the book was wonderful.

Mary Reilly is an emotionally scarred, intelligent young woman who develops a bond with her 'master' through their interactions, and begins to fall in love with him. It's beautifully written and very faithful to the original. There a
Alison Miller-astor
Pretty disappointed in this book... if it hadn't been so short, I probably would have put it down. There was just so much potential in this "dramatic retelling of the classic horror story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" but it just missed out on all the drama and all the horror. Its only saving grace was the character development of Mary Reilly herself. Unless you're a hardcore fan of the Jekyll & Hyde legend, I'd skip this one... ...more
Austen to Zafón
Enjoyable re-hash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from the point of view of Jekyll's maid, a sensible girl with a bright outlook and a keen interest in what goes on around her. I know some found the domestic details boring, but I liked that aspect, as Martin did her research on what it was like to be a maid at the time and I'm interested in domestic history. Well-written and compelling. ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
I do enjoy retellings and this, a retelling of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from the point of view of the maid, Mary Reilly, was quite good. However, as this book was actually longer than the original story, I did feel that it dragged a little bit. I liked Mary and I liked how her opinion gave you a different view on the original story, but not enough happened to make this a truly great book.
Rob Cohen
May 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh, I so badly wanted to enjoy this book but it really didn't go anywhere. Not enough Jekyll and Hyde and too much of her boring life. Nothing really dramatic to speak of and she sure cleaned a lot of fireplaces... too bad. ...more
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Morbid and filled with dread in a good, good way. Julia Roberts gets it spot-on in the movie adaptation.
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
I found the language a little awkward at times, nevertheless this was a fairly engrossing read.
Helena Bueno
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to read this since I watched the movie adaptation 5 years ago.

The first half of the book was translated to screen almost word to word, apart from some dialogues between the doctor and Mary. For that I'm very grateful to the book: I felt like I was getting the deleted scenes I deserved.

For fans of the movie, that is the book's best trait: the slow burn romance between employee and employer. However, if on the one hand Dr. Henry Jekyll stands out, the same can not be said about h
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Play Book Tag: Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin – 4 Stars 1 4 Apr 30, 2021 10:29AM  

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Valerie Martin is the author of nine novels, including Trespass, Mary Reilly, Italian Fever, and Property, three collections of short fiction, and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi, titled Salvation. She has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Kafka Prize (for Mary Reilly) and Britain’s Orange Prize (for Property).

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