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Death Comes to Pemberley (edition 2012)

by Baroness P. D. James

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2,3912272,608 (3.03)283
Member:elimatta
Title:Death Comes to Pemberley
Authors:Baroness P. D. James
Info:Faber and Faber (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Ebooks
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction

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Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

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Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
It's a bold writer who takes on the characters and settings of Jane Austen. And even bolder, I think, to switch genre to Mystery.

So perhaps this was always going to be an uphill task for PD James. With that in mind, I enjoyed her writing voice (definite moments of Austen-like wit) and the insights into the justice system and forensic capabilities of the time were extremely interesting. (I will simply assume the author did her research and got those parts right.) And I suppose the eventual explanation of the death was satisfying enough, if not overly-brilliant... Full marks also for the clever mentions of characters from other novels – I spotted familiar names from Persuasion and Emma but there may have been more. I also enjoyed the introduction, which was a skilled synopsis of Pride and Prejudice.

But alas, that's where my appreciation for the book started to go downhill. The narrative-heavy style of the intro, where much was explained and described but nothing was acted out, continued throughout. Although I listened to the audio version, I could imagine that on the printed page, this would be an extremely dense, text-heavy experience. I also disliked the pace (surely Jane Austen's novels aren't really this slow?), with almost every moment after the initial discovery of the body accounted for - again, mostly in descriptive prose, not dialog. And very few of these painstakingly described events were actually relevant to the overall plot.

Next up, who was the protagonist? Was it Darcy? It certainly wasn't Elizabeth, whose fans will be appalled at her being relegated to a supporting role, where she doesn't actually get to do much of interest at all. And I’m not sure the protagonist was even Darcy, since he was arguably not the one most changed by the events in the book. In fact, I was disappointed that the plot seemed so passive: things simply unfolded, happened or were revealed, without the main characters doing much, puzzling much or uncovering much. This was a missed opportunity for Elizabeth to exercise her brain cells and for some more rewarding interactions between her and her husband. On that note, the scenes between Mr. & Mrs. D were so minimal as to become almost irrelevant, and as such were a huge disappointment.

If you love historical mysteries, don’t mind mostly “telling” not “showing”, don’t expect your main characters to have any real role in the unfolding action except as observers, and have never read Pride & Prejudice, you might enjoy this book. Otherwise, I doubt you’ll find this a fulfilling experience.
( )
  paulinewiles | Jan 26, 2015 |
Great update of the Jane Austin classic! Ms. James' captures the voice of the original nicely. The mystery isn't much of a mystery, especially if you are familiar with the characters from Pride & Prejudice, but the story moves along quickly and is hard to put down. I felt like I was hearing from old friends-- it was nice to see the dangling threads from Ms. Austen's story extended and nicely tied up. ( )
  sharoncville3579 | Jan 24, 2015 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12438643
  JosieRivers | Dec 28, 2014 |
It was fun to take a trip into the world of Jane Austen again, but the further we got into the murder mystery (especially when away from Elizabeth's POV), the more the narration lost Austen's voice. ( )
  kleos_aphthiton | Dec 18, 2014 |
OK but lacking the wit and dazzle of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, to which this is sequel. ( )
  sianpr | Dec 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 222 (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
First words
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.
Quotations
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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