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Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James
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Death Comes to Pemberley (edition 2013)

by P. D. James (Author)

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4,7473122,023 (3.02)346
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy's magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. 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. But now, Pemberley is thrown into chaos after Elizabeth Bennett's disgraced sister Lydia arrives and announces that her husband Wickham has been murdered.… (more)
Member:MelindaN
Title:Death Comes to Pemberley
Authors:P. D. James (Author)
Info:Vintage (2013), Edition: Reprint, 304 pages
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Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

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» See also 346 mentions

English (303)  French (4)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (311)
Showing 1-5 of 303 (next | show all)
We have all sinned, Mr. Darcy, and we cannot look for mercy without showing it in our lives.
  taurus27 | Oct 8, 2022 |
P D James was one of the major writers of detective novels in the last 50 years. Most of her output focuses on policeman Adam Dalgleish, who is a poet and who moves up the ladder in Scotland Yard over the expanse of his career.

I have read all of James' output with the exception of a couple of collections of short stories, a true crime book co-authored with T A Critchley and, until now, this book.

Apparently James was a big fan of Jane Austen, which led her to write this sequel to Austen's much loved Pride and Prejudice which, in keeping with most of James' others works, is a murder mystery.

It is set 6 years after Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage, and they are living at Pemberley, Darcy's family's estate and preparing for an annual ball in honour of Darcy's now departed mother, Lady Anne. Preparations for the ball allows James to paint a picture of the workings of the estate, and the latest news as to a range of characters well remembered from P&P, including Elizabeth's 4 sisters, who by this time are all married.

Readers of P&P will remember that Lydia, the youngest of the sisters had married George Wickham, in circumstances which the family did not approve of. Further behaviour by George saw him leaving the military in regrettable circumstances, resulting in Darcy forming the view that Wickham was not welcome at Pemberley.

For reasons that become clear, Wickham and Lydia (accompanied by Captain Denny) are travelling in the vicinity of Pemberley the evening before the ball, and Lydia decides to arrive unannounced at Pemberley, with Wickham and Denny not stopping but to continue on their journey, Lydia believing that Elizabeth will not be able to turn Lydia away from the ball, notwithstanding Wickham's position as a persona non grata.

But it transpires that Lydia (and the horseman) arrive alone at Pemberley late in the evening, in the middle of a storm, with stories of Denny storming away from the horse and carriage into the deep woods, only for a drunk Wickham to follow, attempting to convince Denny to return. Gun shots are heard, and believing that Wickham has met with foul play, Lydia orders the horseman to speed her to Pemberley in order to get help.

Darcy and others travel back along the road through the woods to discover a dead Denny and a drunk Wickham who exclaims that he is responsible for Denny's death. That statement is not as it seems as Wickham later explains that what he meant was that he was responsible for driving Denny out of the carriage, which resulted in Denny meeting his death due to an encounter with an unknown assailant.

The mystery moves at a pace similar to that of James' works, which means it is well paced. Whilst the book also includes sufficient homage to Austen's works to make it recognisable as an Austen pastiche, it does not mimic the (in my view, at times interminable) dialogue and roundabout conversations of Austen's own books.

I thought the solving of the mystery was interesting, though I thought James was not entirely fair, in that one person's characteristics were explained in such a way that I believe would lead most people to believe that that person was not capable of undertaking certain actions.

I am not a huge fan of Austen's books and as a straight mystery it was not polished as some of James' other works, but I was interested in what James would do with this book and happy to have read it. I expect greater fans of Austen or of P&P itself would rate it higher.

Big Ship

7 October 2022 ( )
  bigship | Oct 7, 2022 |
I love Pride and Prejudice and I like P.D. James in her own element, and what doesn’t work about this novel is the blending of the two. It is only fair to say that I seldom come across a situation where a second author tries to expand on the canon of a former one with success. I would pretty much ascribe to the theory that when the original author leaves his characters, their story is done, unless he decides to pick them up again. Meanwhile we are all at liberty to imagine their further adventures if we wish.

A close friend of mine loved this novel and felt it completed Pride and Prejudice. I was skeptical, after all Pride and Prejudice is complete and wonderful and almost sacred for me. But, I need a book whose title was a complete sentence for a challenge that needs finishing, and this one fit the bill. I should always trust my better instincts.

I could have better appreciated this novel if I could have imagined these as new characters, involved in their own story. In fact, I did not find that these characters acted or spoke in the way I myself would have envisioned the Darcys and company at all. The mystery was a little thin and the denouement a bit boring. This simply isn’t P.D. James at her best and it was unnecessary because she has the ability to invent her own characters and worlds, as she has proved in her other fiction.

This is my third disappointing read in a row. Not something that generally happens to me. It makes me very tempted to pick up a book I have already read, and know that I love, just to remind myself that there is magic out there waiting somewhere.
( )
1 vote mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
I can forgive James for attempting to take on one of the best characters in literature, but I can't forgive her for taking on that character and then ignoring her. What's the point of writing a book about the characters of Pride and Prejudice and then relegating Elizabeth Bennet (sorry, Elizabeth Darcy) to a supporting role? I didn't count words, but I'd bet Colonel Fitzwilliam got more pages! Keeping Elizabeth out of the woods and out of the courtroom was of course the socially appropriate thing to do, but surely the story could've been told from another angle that would've let her play a more active role. Yeesh, I'm ticked!

ETA: Actually, now that I think about it, PBS's movie version did exactly that. Their retelling of James's retelling was so much better. ( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
This is a work that slides in nicely with the original "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. P.D. James has written a very believably Austen-esque world in which we find our favorite characters grappling with a murder within the borders of Pemberley.

Admittedly, I watched the mini-series before I read the book, and I'm glad I did. I felt the mini-series was better overall in the way in which the story was told. This book, however, was very enjoyable. I've seen mixed reviews on it, but I definitely thought it was fun. ( )
  briandrewz | Jun 17, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 303 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James, P. D.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Danielsson, UllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Demange, OdileTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eikli, RagnhildTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Estrella, JuanjoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grabinger, MichaelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kauhanen, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, SheilaReadersecondary 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.
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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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It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy's magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. 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. But now, 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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