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Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley

by P. D. James

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Showing 1-5 of 206 (next | show all)
SO disappointing! I've deliberately been avoiding reading the many, many new authors who have picked up Jane Austen's characters and launched them into new adventures. Why? Because it's NOT the characters (at least not taken on their own strength) that make Jane Austen novels so memorable, it's Austen's storytelling prowess and subtle wit - which, if they were so easy to duplicate/imitate, would scarcely explain why the author remains so admired today. However, I was tempted into setting aside my misgivings by the prospect of an Austen mystery written by an author with proven mystery chops. Maybe, I thought, the diversion of a good mystery plot would distract my attention from any potential lapses in technique or wit.

The story picks up six years after the marriage of Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, whose highly-entertaining courtship is described in Pride & Prejudice. The plot revolves around Lydia's rogue of a husband, Wickham, who finds himself accused of murder after being present (albeit hopelessly drunk) at the bludgeoning death of a fellow soldier on the Pemberley estate.

Alas, the mystery plot never becomes remotely interesting, which caused me to shift my focus to the storytelling, which doesn't stand up to scrutiny either. I simply don't understand how a writer as competent as James could have committed so many basic storytelling errors: abandoning a major character (Lydia) half-way through the novel; creating a mystery with a resolution that is revealed not through investigation or cleverness but through improbable chance/coincidence; retelling items of plot over and over again (first we hear the info from Elizabeth, then she retells the tale to Jane, then the whole tale gets repeated AGAIN at the inquest ... sheesh!); and, finally, wrapping up the novel with an epilogue that unnecessarily rehashes an episode from Pride & Prejudice that was satisfactorily resolved in the original text and certainly in no need of rehashing here.

Also didn't appreciate inconsistencies in characterization (where has Elizabeth's sardonic wit disappeared to? where has Darcy's haughtiness gone?) or James' attempt to "update" Austen's storytelling by having her characters explicitly discuss their feelings/emotions rather than leaving it to us readers to infer them. This sequel doesn't begin to live up to the subtlety or wit of Austen's original text.

In short, I've learned my lesson: there's only one Jane Austen, and she died in 1817. In future I'll be more disciplined about giving these Austen pastiches a miss. ( )
  Dorritt | Aug 11, 2014 |
Wanted to read this because it's going to be a Masterpiece Theater presentation. Elizabeth and Darcy are married with two young boys and on the eve of Lady Ann's Ball at Pemberley there is a murder on the woodland grounds of their home. Lydia arrives alone during a storm hysterically saying her husband, Wickham, could be shot in the woods and the men should go search. Wickham is not "received" at Pemberley. It's still all about Pride and Prejudice and properly doing the right thing in the early 1800s. It seems a little repetitive in that the characters talked among themselves and then the story was told again in courtroom. ( )
  Kathy89 | Aug 11, 2014 |
Good story with the main characters from Pride and Prejudice involved in a murder mystery close to home. I found it to be very well written with great character development. Jane Austen would be proud of her characters in this setting. Well done PD James. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Aug 4, 2014 |
I don't remember being too terribly impressed with the crafting of this story: a bit over-done, but a good mystery. Miniseries looks really good though... ( )
  margaret.pinard | Jul 24, 2014 |
I will start out by saying that I am NOT a Jane Austen fanatic. I have read "Pride and Prejudice" and enjoyed it, but I do not live and die by her works.

So this book didn't hurt my feelings like it seems to have done for so many others. Yes, this book lacked the depth of characters seen in P&P, and the mystery was sort of looking the reader in the face, but it was not a complete loss. It was a fluff read. Nothing challenging, no heavy lifting, just something to attempt to take us back to the day of hack-chaises and a rather lackluster law system.

Did it keep me up at night? No, and that's sad.
Did it make me want to beat my head off the wall out of frustration? No! So, really it's not a total loss. ( )
  katemiller1724 | Jul 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 206 (next | show all)
. . . an excellent period mystery, replete with all manner of mayhem, and a most welcome way to revisit Elizabeth and Darcy. . .
added by 4leschats | editBookPage, Sukey Howard (Apr 1, 2012)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
P. D. Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kauhanen, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, SheilaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ragnhild EikliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trond Peter Stamsø MunchNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Joyce McLennan
Friend and personal assistant who has typed my novels for thirty-five years
With affection and gratitude
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It was generally agreed by the female residents of Meryton that Mr and Mrs Bennett of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters.
Author's note: 
I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation, especially as in the final chapter of Mansfield Park Miss Austen made her views quite plain: 'Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.' No doubt she would have replied to my apology by saying that, had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.
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Originally published: London : Faber and Faber, 2011.
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Book description
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy's magnificent state. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. Elizabeth's sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy's sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth's disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberly. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P.D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it.

[from the back cover]
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Pemberley is thrown into chaos after Elizabeth Bennett's disgraced sister Lydia arrives and announces that her husband Wickham has been murdered.

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