jekyll.jpgI watched the recent BBC series with the Book God, and although I have never been a huge fan of James Nesbit, I really enjoyed his performance in this; scenery chewing at its very best. The series seems to have really divided opinion, but I’m always willing to give Stephen Moffat the benefit of the doubt, especially as he has written some of the very best episodes of the rejuvenated Dr Who.

There was also an excellent documentary on BBC Four, a companion piece to the series presented by Ian Rankin, which looked at the influences on Robert Louis Stevenson – why the book was set in London and not Edinburgh, who was Jekyll based on etc. It gave some real insights into Victorian double life and the creative process itself.

I didn’t think much more about Jekyll until I came across Dr Jekyll and Mr Holmes as part of my Sherlockian marathon; this dr-jekyll-and-mr-holmes_-dr13044_f.jpgis a retelling of the story with Holmes called upon by Jekyll’s solicitor Mr Utterson to investigate the hold Edward Hyde has on his client. Written by Loren D Estleman, this version of the story works quite well, and I must admit to loving the fairly lurid cover, but it did make me hanker after the original, which I listed to on my daily commute by way of an excellent Naxos audiobook. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is read by John Sessions (one of my favourite Scottish actors) with real passion, and reminded me doctorjekyllandmrhydecla21727_f.jpgjust how dark the original tale actually is; it’s really well worth a listen. It does reinforce what a masterpiece the Jekyll story is, which of course leaves it open to all sorts of retelling and reinterpreatations. One of the very best of these is Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly, which looks at the tale from the perspective of Jekyll’s housemaid, who gets drawn into the very heart of her employer’s terrible story.

mary-reilly-valerie-martin18009_f.jpgLooking back at my book diary, I found that I had read this for the first time on Christmas Eve 1991 (nice and atmospheric) and hadn’t looked at it again since, but on re-reading it I was pleased that it really was as good as I had remembered. Forget the film, which I didn’t take to largely because I thought Julia Roberts was miscast in the title role, and go back to the novel for something special.

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