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Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley

Book - 2011
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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
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780307950659
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Austen, Jane 1775-1817 Pride and prejudice


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Oct 30, 2020

I think this was a serious insult to Jane Austen.

Jul 31, 2020

A mystery sequel to our beloved Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley imagines a murder and subsequent trial involving the infamous George Wickham, his best friend Captain Denny and, of course, the Darcy family. ⁣

The book was a little slow in the beginning, especially before the truth, delivered through various perspectives, began to unravel. However, it kept my attention throughout and I was able to finish this four-hundred-paged-mass-paperback in a few days. ⁣

P. D. James also clearly made an effort to adhere to Austen’s original. The first parts of the novel were written in the same style, but unfortunately the latter parts became more informal. ⁣

I also appreciated her exploration of Darcy’s character. Because I had been so obsessed with Lizzy, it was easy to overlook Darcy’s own struggles. But Death Comes to Pemberley inspected his sentiments and weaknesses in greater depth, and you know what, if I had that much money and land, had been raised with an aristocratic pride and could have married anyone I wanted, I’m not sure that I would have married a poor girl with an embarrassing family and a brother-in-law who had attempted to seduce my own little sister for her fortune, no matter how intelligent and witty Elizabeth is.⁣

Overall, although the mystery itself was a letdown, the characters developed pretty reasonably and P. D. James really tried to uphold the Austenian legacy. Characters from Persuasion, Emma, and probably others I failed to recognize were also mentioned, which brought a smile to my face amidst the tension of the murder.

For more book reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead

Jun 11, 2019

I read this for book club. I watched the TV series first so that made this less suspenseful and I knew what the clues were. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I didn't know what was going to happen.

I think this is a very believable continuation of Pride & Prejudice - the characters are fantastic, I liked reading what happened to them next, and have no problems with what P.D. James decided.

Worth reading if you like P&P for sure.

If anybody can do justice to Jane Austen’s beloved characters, it is P.D. James. This book chronicles the lives of the Darcys six years after their marriage, and the events of one night, the eve of their most important ball, which throw everyone into a state of mayhem. By present day “thriller” standards, the mystery itself may be rather tame but the writing is true to Jane Austen’s characters, and Pride and Prejudice lovers will enjoy it immensely. (submitted by library customer MA)

trevordunfordswife Oct 31, 2016

Not up to the quality of either author. If you want to read something, try rereading one of their originals.

Nov 18, 2015

I love anything Austen, but was very disappointed in this book. The attempts to recreate Austen's characters failed in my opinion. Not good at all. It was more enjoyable when we got to the mystery as then the author was in her natural element, but even that was not particularly gripping. This is the kind of book that only tenacious Austen fans would bother with. If you're not a die-hard fan, I'd say give it a miss.

Radya_RS Oct 30, 2015

Wonderful read combining the best Pride and Prejudice fan fiction with a suspenseful mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mar 15, 2015

Well, I am not a true Janeite (no surprise, I suppose) because I have the very unpopular opinion of disliking Death Comes to Pemberley. I expected a mystery set in Jane Austen's world, but what I got was a snorefest.

That's not to say that P. D. James' writing style is amateur. The author captures the cadence and lilt of Austen's voice pretty darn well. The problem is that it lacks entertainment. Austen's appeal lies largely in her witty descriptions of characters, and our growing to know them throughout the book by their actions and reactions. James uses characters we already know and, rather than flesh them out more, basically explains things that Austen left vague (like Darcy's motivation in certain aspects).

The mystery is not tantalizingly dangled in front of the reader, for us to piece together or even engage with. A thing happens, a period-appropriate legal response happens, and then everything is explained. There was absolutely no sense of suspense or intrigue, or titillation, at all.

Overall, this story was flat and dull to me, a series of events that plod along with nothing to keep me invested. Part of this is probably because it's largely centered around Darcy (whom I actually dislike), and there's a style of "blah blah blah, he said" that I found grating on the nerves. While James is stylistically quite Austen, the meat of the story is lacking.

I recommend it only to huge Austen fans, those that adore P&P (and Darcy) and want to see the characters again in any respect, and those that enjoy long-winded, dry explanations for everything.

Chapel_Hill_SarahW Dec 05, 2014

I love reading about the continued stories of Elizabeth and Darcy and a mystery seemed like it might be fun. I had heard quite a bit about this when it came out, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. The writing and dialogue was appropriate for an Austen spin-off, but there wasn't any suspense or intrigue really.

Oct 21, 2014

Boring. Oddly enough, I was half way through this before I realized that I had read it before. It didn’t engage me the first time, and it still does not. I didn’t find the wit and social satire from Jane Austin, although James adopts a writing style and voice that mimic Austin’s. And nor did I find the gripping murder mystery that I expected from James. The style feels forced and the mystery seems contrived.
Okay, James shows that in the genteel social setting of the propertied classes of the nineteenth century, even the idea of being associated with a mystery was (as she would say) abhorrent. As a woman, Elizabeth must keep away from anything suggesting scandal, so much of the story has to be seen from Darcy’s point of view. And he is such a self-restrained and self-regarding individual that he focuses more on how the murder might affect his own family than on the perpetrator or the victim. This is a perspective that is difficult to relate to, and pushes the hints of social consciousness about the situation of the property-less and of women far to the background.
Perhaps the most interesting character, for example, is Mrs. Younge, who succeeds against all odds in creating for herself a degree of security and wealth by taking advantage of the social strictures imposed on wealthy society, but we see her only in glimpses through the eyes of observers who hate her. James hints at the costs that this imposed on her, but from the limited perspective she has chosen, she cannot give Mrs. Younge any depth or colour.
One of the few bits that had a sense of reality was the examination conducted by the nineteenth century medical men, and it was interesting to imagine what they actually knew and understood with limited forensic tools. Similarly, the inquiry and court procedures were interesting in illustrating the legal forms of the time. (Although it’s difficult to see how the entire examination, cross-examination, judgement and sentencing could have taken place in what appears to be one day, but I leave that to James’ actual legal knowledge and her authorial license.)
So who is the book written for? James apparently enjoyed the idea of writing in the voice of one of her (and her readers’) favourite writers. But instead of the sharp observations of Jane Austin, we get a look at the ongoing relationship of a romanticized couple, which reveals little except that they get along well, care for their children, and live up to the social expectations of their time and class. The tragedy is that Elizabeth’s vulgar sister and her husband might upset their quiet life and the marriage prospects of Darcy’s younger sister (although there’s no real danger of that either, since she is being courted by a young man who would be happy to marry her regardless of the potential scandal). Perhaps Austin could have made me care about the upset to the social equilibrium, but James does not.

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Sep 06, 2017

It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy's magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world is thrown into chaos after Elizabeth's disgraced sister Lydia arrives and announces that her husband Wickham has been murdered. Very well written. Movie adaptation on PBS worth checking out.


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