*** About the Book ***
Mr. Utterson is concerned. His long-time friend (and client - Utterson is a lawyer) Dr. Jekyll has revealed a very close attachment to an unnerving man called Mr. Hyde. Hyde not only has a bad reputation, he also generates feelings of intense dislike in all he meets. When Jekyll makes Hyde the beneficiary of his will, Utterson becomes concerned that Hyde means to kill Jekyll. After several months of socializing in a normal manner, Jekyll suddenly shuts himself up and refuses to see anyone.
What is going on behind Dr. Jekyll's locked door? Who is the mysterious Mr. Hyde? Is he blackmailing the dear doctor, or has he possibly killed him? It is only through a series of letters and the breaking down of a door that Mr. Utterson finally learns the truth.
*** Why I Listened To It ***
This book was on my TBR list because it is on the 1,001 Books You Must Read list, and that means it counts for the 1% Well Read Challenge. That, and the fact that I've been wanting to read more from this author. Then Jill and I decided it would be a good fit for this year's Dueling Monsters read-a-long. Gotta love it when reading one book meets so many different goals!
*** My Thoughts ***
I was, of course, familiar with the basic concept of the story before listening to this book - it IS an element of our (pop) culture at this point - but I didn't realize that I had several key details wrong. First, I was completely unfamiliar with Mr. Utterson and the other characters in the book. Second, the real reasons for Dr. Jekyll's experiments were new to me. And third, the outcome of the experiments was not what I expected. I realize that I'm being vague here - that's intentional! I'll go into more detail in the read-a-long section below but I don't want to put any spoilers here because I think that there are probably other people who had incorrect impressions of this book and I don't want to ruin the fun of reading it for them.
This is the most accessible classic monster book I've come across to date. It is easy to read, the language is straightforward, and it is very brief. If you've considered trying out one of the classics in this genre, definitely give this book a shot. [FYI, I've also read Dracula and Frankenstein, and listened to The Picture of Dorian Gray.]
I have to admit that many of my expectations for this book were influenced by my love of the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I know that it is an amalgam of literary figures and that those figures have been changed from their originals, but it is still that movie that I think of when I bring to mind Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
*** The Narrator ***
I think this is the first time I've heard Iam Holm and I'm very impressed. He was soft spoken but very clear, and I greatly enjoyed his narration style.
*** Dueling Monsters - My Thoughts ***
WARNING: This section will contain spoilers.
Ok, so - Dr. Jekyll is really creepy! He doesn't seem that way at first, and he doesn't come across that way to his friends, but if you think through his actions and his decisions ... the man is creepy! He actually ENJOYS being Hyde because he is basically without a conscience. His experiments were originally meant to split the two parts of this nature - the good and the bad - and allow each one to have fullness of expression. The first few times he returned to being Jekyll after being Hyde, he reveled in the horrid things he'd done and said and rejoiced over the fact that there was no possible way he'd ever get caught. It isn't until he commits murder that he finally realizes things are getting out of hand.
The other thing that makes him so creepy is that as Dr. Jekyll he is such a mild mannered person, and he has done an excellent job of hiding his evil desires and refusing to act on them. But then he allows them free reign in the person on Mr. Hyde - and that is creepy.
Dorian Gray is going to have to do some really horrid things to compete with Jekyll in my mind ...
*** Your Thoughts ***
If you've read this one, what did you think of it? Did it match your pop-culture-influenced expectations of what it was really about or did it surprise you?
If your comment will contain spoilers please note that so people can skip over it if necessary. Thanks!