Book Review : Death Comes To Pemberley
By P.D. James
The world is classic Jane Austen. The mystery is vintage P.D. James.
The year is 1803, and Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham – Elizabeth Bennet’s younger, unreliable sister – stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.
Two great literary minds – master of suspense P.D. James and literary icon Jane Austen – come together in Death Comes to Pemberley, a bestselling historical crime fiction tribute to Pride and Prejudice. Conjuring the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mark Darcy and combining the trappings of Regency British society with a classic murder mystery, James creates a delightful mash-up that will intrigue any Janeite.
From the bestselling author of The Murder Room, Children of Men and A Certain Justice, comes a wonderful mixture of the nation’s greatest romance and best-loved crime fiction. In 2013, this novel was adapted as a miniseries by the BBC, starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet and Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
P.D. James makes a coy apology to Jane Austen for dragging her characters through the trauma of a murder, concluding that Austen would have written this story better herself. The author was correct! She should have stopped, reconsidered and never written this book.
I finish nearly every book I start. I finally looked at the book, sitting on the table, on the sofa, and the floor, and realized the location wasn’t the problem, it was the book that had the problem. I didn’t want to read it.
My first big problem was the character of the Colonel, Darcy’s cousin. He is bossy, controlling and horrible as he strides across the page. Next, I didn’t feel the connection between Darcy and Elizabeth. All the characters seem like parodies of the original. Nobody felt authentic. Last, the story was convoluted. After reading half the book the locals belief of a malevolent spirit living in the woods has barely been touched upon. The plot made more sense in the movie.
I jumped to the end of the book to see if some of the character problems were resolved. They weren’t. The Colonel is still overbearing, Darcy is flat, Lydia is still a brat, ect. The only good thing is that the Colonel is leaving to fight Bonaparte.
It is rare to enjoy a movie more than the book, but in this case that is true. I was very disappointed in the book. I’m giving it a mere one star because I couldn’t finish the novel. There was nothing particularly sensual or violent in the book, other than the one description of the victim. If I wasn’t appalled by the characters I would have given it two stars.
1 out of 5 stars
Other Regency Era books that I enjoyed would include An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden (I haven’t read it in years, but I remember loving the first one – it tells the story from Darcy’s point of view), Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede (totally silly since they have magic, but so fun) and Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron (Jane is a sleuth solving mysteries – again, I read it a long time ago, but it was fun).
If you have read a modern Regency novel and enjoyed it please share your suggestions!