Advent with Austen, Current Affairs, Thriller

Death Comes To Pemberley – P. D. James – 6/10

“Darcy, who was standing by the window, gave a sudden exclamation”

Two great dames of literature meet – Ms Austen and Ms James. P. D. James has imagined Elizabeth and Darcy settled at Pemberley, two fine boys in the nursery and the Bingley settled not too far away at Highmarten. Georgiana is growing up and entertaining suitors, and the household is preparing for the great annual Lady Anne’s Ball when a coach arrives at full speed late at night, from which Lydia emerges, hysterical about a fight between Wickham and Denny. The ensuing investigation dredges up all the bad blood we witnessed in Pride & Prejudice.

Firstly, as I wrote yesterday, I am generally not a fan of these “what happened after Lizzy and Darcy marry” stories as they are generally (based on my short experience with Jane Austen Made Me Do It) a bit sordid and voyeuristic. Fortunately there was no such discomfort in DCTP, although the ending was spectacularly twee and along those lines.

James does a sterling effort of keeping the characters as they were in P&P, although Darcy is really the hero of this narration and he is frequently unsure, not something I would have described him as in P&P. Maybe that is the point of P&P, that he learns to doubt his first impressions. Anyhow. The voice of the narration is very Austen-like and James spends a long time establishing her credentials as an Austen imitator before she brings in the mystery.

My objection to the mystery was that the solution was too obscure and while credible, too convoluted; the obvious version of events was built up and adhered to so strongly for so much of the book that the eventual revelation felt a little deus ex machina rather than an alternative interpretation of the facts.

Writing this review, I realise that I am struggling to say many good things. I thought the book perfectly passable. I will be passing it on to someone I am confident will enjoy it. I don’t find fault with the writing, any huge character changes or a weak plot; I just wasn’t thrilled.

Other links/reviews: A little article at the BBC, Gaskella, Karen at BookBath

Read for Advent with Austen.

 Additional info:
This was a personal copy, recently bought with much excitement!.
Publisher: Faber & Faber, 320 pages (paperback)
Order Death Comes to Pemberley from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.
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9 thoughts on “Death Comes To Pemberley – P. D. James – 6/10”

  1. By now I think I would be quite glad to find a book that isn’t faulty in writing, because of character changes or a weak plot. I have been reading a little too many Austen follow ups lately, or um, attempted to read them since I gave most of them up.

  2. I still want to read this one, only waiting for the paperback to come out. I think it has as much to do with it being my first PD James than Austen, which might be a good thing.

    “perfectly passable” – lol!

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