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Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: book review


If you think you don’t need to read the book because you know the story, you’re wrong. You are so wrong. And so was I.

I decided to start tackling the huge books-you-must-read list with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as I thought it would be an easy read, I knew what was going to happen and it would put me one book closer to 1000.

It was indeed an easy read, but not what I expected.

 

Let’s start with the fact that it’s not a horror story, it’s a mystery. And a very good one at that. The book is based on the premise of shocking the reader with its completely unexpected twist: that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person. Big problem: everyone knows that already! But if you read the book with the thought that you are not supposed to know that, then you can enjoy it.

Another thing I realized, and I’m not entirely sure why my brain didn’t make the connection before, is that this Stevenson is the same Stevenson who wrote Treasure Island. Two such very different books, it’s hard to see how they both came from the same author.

 

Back to the book (this is supposed to be a review after all) I was surprised at the physical appearance of the characters, especially Hyde. I’ve grown up knowing him to be monster-like, I didn’t expect what I found in the book.

 

Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is considered a novel, but it runs more as a longish short story. I didn’t read the book, I listened to the audio book and it came a few minutes short of 3 hours. Despite being so short, the pace is good, the story doesn’t feel rushed and you don’t get bored either.

Truth be told, I enjoyed the book more as a description of the Victorian society than anything else. Most books I’ve read of the era are either romance or adventure oriented, it was a nice change to come across what would now be called a paranormal thriller. The view of the world you get is completely different.

 

All in all Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a nice little book, it won’t change your world or bore you to death. Short enough that you can read in a couple commutes or on the plane to your holidays or whenever your husband decides that golf is an exciting sport and expects you to sit through the whole open of Augusta.
If nothing, it will show you how inaccurately classics are portrayed in our society, which is always a good conversation starter for the next Come Dine With Me session your husband drags you to with his new golf mates.

 

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Musing Mondays for July 11th


Today’s question was:

Do you think it makes you NOT (or less) “well-read” if there are certain genres that you won’t read because you KNOW you won’t enjoy them? Why?

 

To me well-read implies the amount, the quality and the variety of things you read. A person could be reading 100 books per year but all be chick-lit of no depth and where the most complicated figure of speech is a clichéd metaphor. I wouldn’t call that person well-read. Whereas someone else could be reading 10 books a year but include in those different genres, writing eras and of differing writing quality and styles. That person, would in my opinion be considered well-read.

Personally, I try to be what I define as well-read. I would like to consider that, especially for someone my age, I am indeed well read, and that being well-read gives me a certain degree of authority to critique books beyond ‘the story was so nice’ or ‘it was a very long book’ (which I keep hearing from people who read a lot, but with no variety whatsoever).

There are of course some genres that I tend to favor. Historical fiction, classic sci-fi, adventure and fantasy, YA fiction, chick-lit, Victorian writers and travel writing for non-fiction. However, I do try to read books not belonging to those categories.

I have read all of Asimov (even the non-fiction book about the cell), all but one of Jane Austen, and I could tell you a thing or two about turgent body parts. But, the fact that a book doesn’t happen to fall in one of my genres doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it. One of my favourite books is Lazarillo de Tormes, a 16th-century picaresque spanish novella, hardly what anyone would expect me to be reading. If I had banned that book from my pile of possible reads just because I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, I would have missed a great book.

And, I think, that in the end, that is exactly what makes me a well-read person: I can enjoy and appreciate a book for its literary qualities going beyond a nice story or a likable character.

 

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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Musing Mondays

 

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