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När döden kom till Pemberley by P.…
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När döden kom till Pemberley (edition 2012)

by P. D. James, Ulla Danielsson

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2,8412552,048 (3.03)306
Member:annakarin
Title:När döden kom till Pemberley
Authors:P. D. James
Other authors:Ulla Danielsson
Info:Stockholm : Wahlström & Widstrand, 2012
Collections:Read but unowned, Lästa 2013
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, historical fiction, crime fiction, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, english literature

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Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

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Some six years after their marriage at the end of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy are planning a ball. The evening before the big day, Elizabeth's youngest sister Lydia appears on their doorstep in hysterics, shouting that her husband is dead. A search party scours the woods of Pemberley where it is found that not Wickham, but his friend Captain Denny, has been murdered. Wickham is the only viable suspect but as his case is brought before the justice system, no one at Pemberley can believe that Wickham, despite his many flaws and faults, is capable of murder.

This book is one in a many myriad of Jane Austen-based sequels, spin-offs, and re-writings. The clout of P.D. James's name made it seem like it could be a contender but, alas, this title is just another one in the pile of dreadful, not-even-close Austen wannabees. The mystery is blase -- for most of the novel, no person other than Wickham is given as a possible suspect and the crime seems completely straightforward. (Note to authors: A big twist at the end does not make up for hundreds of pages leading to a seemingly inevitable conclusion.)

Much of the book seems to be treading water. The same bits are repeated almost ad nauseam. For example: First we are privy to the search party's steps on the night in question; then we have those actions recounted in the local hearing; and yet again we hear about it for the trial in London -- with practically the same word usage each time. It seems like a better editor would have known to cut down on much of this redundancy to keep the book sharper and more edge-of-your-seat readable.

In this book, we get a great deal of insight into the inner workings of Darcy's mind, which was an interesting perspective, especially given that Darcy has a tendency for reserve, which usually keeps his thoughts hidden from the reader. On the other hand, Elizabeth is a dull character not at all in keeping with the feisty young heroine of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Instead, she is far too busy worrying about what the neighbors will think, doing what is proper, and running a large household, complete with her two little children, to really do much about the terrible events before her. However, James does a fairly decent job of keeping the spirit alive of many of Austen's minor characters, particularly the delightfully horrible Lady Catherine, although sometimes all she does is simply lift lines almost verbatim from Austen's original novel.

Speaking of the original novel and its various characters, James's approach to this novel is a bit odd. She begins with a prologue that quickly recaps the events of Pride and Prejudice and serves as a reminder of who relates to whom and how. This seemed like a good start to me as I picked up the book. However, then as the book proper launches, she once again gets bogged down in details about the pasts of these characters -- most of which have nothing to do with the story at hand. In addition, detailing the fates of minor characters -- such as the middle Bennet sisters, Mary and Lydia -- ultimately seemed unnecessary. The total lack of Austenesque prose is sure to make Janeites unhappy anyway and the diversions into these characters that play no role in this book serves to simply confuse and bog down the uninitiated reader who is just trying to tackle the plot of this novel.

While this book had some moments here and there that shone brightly or promised potential or just made a clever turn of phrase, it was overall marred by a slim plot, too much repetition of that basic plot, and flat or one-dimensional characterizations. I wasn't actually expecting something as good as Jane Austen with Death Comes to Pemberley, but I was hoping for something at least a little more entertaining than this actually was. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jun 15, 2016 |
I don't really know whether I liked this book or not. I loved reading about Lizzie, Darcy, Jane, and Bingley, but there was way too much Wickham and Lydia. I thought that the narrative dragged on in some places, which interrupted my flow of reading. Some of the theories about events that happened off-page in Pride & Prejudice were interesting, and I loved the mention of certain other Jane Austen characters. All in all, the book equaled out between the good and bad. ( )
  butterfly58 | Jun 4, 2016 |
Easy read, not much to it. Library book. ( )
  aine.fin | May 12, 2016 |
While this was not a bad book, I was disappointed with it.

I have read and enjoyed most of James's novels, and "Pride and Prejudice" is one of my top favorite books. I was very excited to learn about a novel that combined them!

Sadly, this did not live up to my hopes and expectations at all.

Far too much of the first parts of the novel were devoted to reiterating- many times over- the basic plot of P&P. Since I think it unlikely that anyone who is not a fan of P&P would read this, we really did not need the constant harping on its plot- and even if someone had no familiarity with P&P, repeating its plot at least 3 times does not show respect for the reader.

And while the characters in P&P are vivid, here they all fade to gray. "Workmanlike" is the best way I can summarize what James did with Austen's vivid personalities. Even Lady Catherine was toned down!

Also, the murder mystery did not make much sense. I suppose it was a decent excuse to revisit the characters- and redeem some of the awful ones to some degree- but I found the resolution very unsatisfying, and the tying up of loose ends- especially as it pertains to the characters in various other Austen novels- to be a fairly pointless clever trick.

Darcy is not going to turn into a Sensitive New Age Guy. Lizzie is not going to turn into an indulgent helpmeet for him. Wickham is not going to change his spots. Et cetera.

James did do a lot of research into the way "great houses" worked, and the current legal system; I wish she had integrated that better with the vivid characters in the original P&P. ( )
1 vote cissa | Apr 6, 2016 |
It was a chore to slog through this book. I really liked the premise and I really hoped the story would improve. Unfortunately, it did not get better. Really disappointed. ( )
1 vote jhadsell | Mar 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 250 (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)
 


Really, gentle reader, there are limits. When mystery grande dame P. D. James felt the mantle of Jane Austen fall on her shoulders, why didn't she simply shrug it off? James places a template of Austen characters and Austen-like language over a traditional mystery plot. The mystery is set in 1803, six years after the wedding of Elizabeth and Darcy, with ample space given to catching us up on the recent doings of the Bennet family. On the mystery side, there's plenty of action, from the discovery of Captain Denny's body, through a trial, assorted deceptions and mix-ups, and love affairs. Unfortunately, though, if this is meant as an homage, it's a pretty weak cup of tea. James' many fans will be pleased to see any kind of new book from the 91-year-old author, but discriminating Austen devotees are unlikely to appreciate the move from social comedy to murder.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist
 

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
P. D. Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Estrella, JuanjoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kauhanen, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary 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.
Here we sit at the beginning of a new century, citizens of the most civilised country in Europe, surrounded by the splendour of its craftsmanship, its art and the books which enshrine its literature, while outside there is another world which wealth and education and privilege can keep from us, a world in which men are as violent and destructive as in the animal world. Perhaps even the most fortunate of us will not be able to ignore it and keep it at bay for ever.
Simon Cartwright’s management of the prosecution was now apparent and Darcy could appreciate its cleverness. The story would be told scene by scene, imposing both coherence and credibility on the narrative and producing in court as it unfolded something of the excited expectancy of a theatre. But what else, thought Darcy, but public entertainment was a trial for murder? The actors clothed for the parts assigned for them to play, the buzz of happy comment and anticipation before the character assigned to the next scene appeared, and then the moment of high drama when the chief actor entered the dock from which no escape was possible before facing the final scene: life or death. This was English law in practice, a law respected throughout Europe, and how else could such a decision be made, in all its terrible finality, with more justice? He had been subpoenaed to be present but, gazing round at the crowded courtroom, the bright colours and waving headdresses of the fashionable and the drabness of the poor, he felt ashamed to be one of them.
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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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