Mary Reilly Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Mary Reilly

'Mary Reilly' is a housemaid in the Victorian England home of Doctor Henry Jekyll. Although she is given the most demanding tasks to perform Mary is happy in her position. After surviving a childhood of abuse Mary finds comfort in the unvarying household routine of her bachelor employer. When Doctor Jekyll notices the scars on Mary's hands and neck inflicted by her sadistic father and encourages her to tell him how she came by them, servant and master begin to develop an affinity for one another. Soon the quiet household is disturbed by the doctor's odd work hours in his laboratory adjacent to the house, by his seeming illness from overwork, and most of all by the doctor's new assistant Edward Hyde.
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The doctor's servants are instructed that they are to treat Edward Hyde as they do their master, he is given the run of the house and laboratory and Mary and the other servants are agitated by the new young assistant's volatile temperament and ungentlemanly manner. Mary is entrusted by Doctor Jekyll with errands to the home of Mrs. Farraday, whose seedy establishment in Soho is to house Edward Hyde. On the second of these errands Mary carries a letter and a check to Mrs. Farraday. In spite of her rough upbringing Mary's journeys to Mrs. Farraday's house are descents into the hellishly impoverished London of Victorian times. Once there Mrs. Farraday shows Mary a bedroom in her house where the bed and a woman's slip are covered in blood, and bloody hand prints are upon the walls. Mrs. Farraday gives Mary a blood soaked handkerchief embroidered with Doctor Jekyll's initials, and though she tells Mary that the check sent by Doctor Jekyll insures her silence, Mrs. Farraday refers to Edward Hyde as “his bloody favorite he has set loose among us here like a mad dog.” Mary's strength and loyalty to Doctor Jekyll are tested as she tries to shield him from Edward Hyde, accused of the murder of an acquaintance of Doctor Jekyll, and with the other household servants tries to bolster the doctor's rapidly deteriorating health.

Edward Hyde flees after police link him to the murder of Danvers Carew and for a time Doctor Jekyll's household returns to normal. Inevitably, however, Doctor Jekyll returns to his experimental drug use and obsession with the good and evil sides of his personality and Edward Hyde reappears, bringing the story to a disastrous conclusion. Author Valerie Martin's ‘Mary Reilly' is a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson's ‘The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' in the voice of the scientist's trusted housemaid.
The review of this Book prepared by Eva Ulett

Chapter Analysis of Mary Reilly

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% Tone of book    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Lifeform altered?    -   Yes Kind of alteration:    -   personality change Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   servant


Earth setting:    -   19th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   explicit references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Valerie Martin Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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