by Robert Louis Stevens
After finishing Jekyll and Hyde I felt much the same as I did when I finished Dracula. Enlightened. All my life I have seen or heard tidbits of information from the book and I've seen distortions of the original story but now I KNOW the original. Puzzle pieces of information fit together, characters are more than a name or a bit of trivia, and in both cases, the original telling of the story is better than any movie or take off.
It's refreshing to read a classic that a regular person can understand why it's been a beloved story for so many years. As the story progressed I compared it in my mind's eye to eating an artichoke. Each leaf brought you closer to the heart of the matter, but revealed only a tantalizing morsel at a time. The story was told from Dr. Jekyll's friend's point of view. He had to work to reveal each part of the mystery. I can see that reading this book without knowing the heart, the climax, the end; the reader would be as confused and curious as Jekyll's friend. Even knowing the climax of the story, Stevenson's writing held me captive.
Jekyll and Hyde was published in 1886. It would have made a great pick for the 15 Decades/15 Books Challenge. I would encourage you to consider it for next years Decades Challenge.
Now to compare the book to the movie, rather the musical. That's right - a musical of Jekyll and Hyde. It's actually pretty good. Ready for another shock? The lead is played by David Hasselhoff! You know, the Bay Watch and Knight Rider guy.
I thought the musical was marvelous and Hasselhoff does a amazing job - amazing because I was surprised, but he was also good. His depiction of the battle between Jekyll and Hyde for control of their shared body is outstanding. You really need to see it.
How did it compare to the book? The movie takes lots of liberty. In the book Jekyll is a middle-aged man (50-ish) and Hyde transforms into a younger, evil man. The movie has both men in their late 20s, and Jekyll is engaged to be married. There's no love interest in the book. Murders in the book - one; several in the movie. The movie is told from Jekyll's point of view and the book from the friend's.
My recommendation would be to read the book first and then watch the musical. Both worthwhile, but the book is the best.