Sunday, December 29, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberly - Review

by P.D. James 

  Death Comes to Pemberley
A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.

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.

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 Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

This sounds like a great idea for a book. The cover alone made me want to pick it up because the design I think is very elegant. However, I did hear some mixed reviews about this book so when I actually got my hands on it I was cautious.

The pace of this book felt painstakingly slow to me for a murder story. The plot was drawn out far longer than I was expecting. (The story actually takes place over the course of about a year) I feel like the description of this book is misleading and I was disappointed that it wasn't what I expected. I also may have anticipated the solution to the mystery well before the end of the book so I was a little bored with the slow pace.

I think what I was most disappointed in was Lizzy. She was changed from the bright inquisitive character that I know and love from P&P to a rather dull version of a dutiful mistress of Pemberley. This is understandable and a lot of her behavior was correct for the time period. However, I was struck by the change and the choice to make her less lively and witty. Maybe this was just because a lot of the story is told from Mr. Darcy's perspective so Lizzy literally isn't in the picture during certain parts of the story.

Even though I was disappointed in this book, I do not want to make it out as all bad. I did like the picture that James painted of the future of Pemberley and the future of the Bennett daughters. I always enjoy seeing how authors interpret what will happen after the end of Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed the course the story took and how everything worked out in the end. I think this is a fun read and overall I ended up liking the book as a whole.

Do I Recommend? - If you get the chance to read it either by borrowing the book from a friend or the library or getting it for a good deal, I would say pick it up. I'm certainly glad I did not buy it to read it though.

Rating 2/5

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