cover image Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde

Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde

Emma Tennant. Faber & Faber, $6.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-571-14330-6

Tennant ( The Adventures of Robina by Herself ) here cleverly reworks the classic tale, giving it a contemporary setting and a decidedly feminist twist. The construction itself is unusual--more like a play, complete with a ``cast list'' and a prologue that not only describes the crime but names the murderer. This device distances the reader from the action and signals that the story is less important than its social implications. It also makes the book rather an odd read. Still, there is plenty to pique the mystery lover's interest, as we quickly figure out that the task is to discern the killer's motivation and the nature of her connection to the rest of the players. As in the original tale, Mrs. Hyde and Ms. Jekyll are alter egos of one very disconnected person, here an otherwise respectable woman driven to madness, child abuse and drug addiction by her husband's desertion and the resultant loss of a defined societal role. The story of her degeneration is poignant and thought-provoking. Yet Tennant's indictment of modern society and the impossible demands it places upon women would be more effectively presented on the stage. (Apr.)