Grafton Public Library

Review: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Posted by bethg on

Death Comes to PemberleyAs much as I enjoy watching a Jane Austen work such as Pride and Prejudice, I have a hard time getting through a book of hers. I find the sentences unusually convoluted, and I often find myself re-reading passages for the sense of it all. Learning the relationships between all the characters is another obstacle.

Why on earth I chose to read Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James is beyond me. Maybe it was my last attempt to read about what happened to Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice six years later. Told through the eyes and pen of famed mystery writer P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley has given me a renewed appreciation of Jane Austen.

It’s 1803 and Elizabeth and Darcy are preparing for an annual ball at their estate, Pemberley. Unfortunately, word comes to them that a terrible event has occurred in the surrounding woods, and a death has been verified. Involved in this situation are Elizabeth’s sister and her husband Wickham who are on the outs with the family.

Thus begins an investigation into the whereabouts of the staff and all those known to be in the area. There are by necessity conversations that refer to past events in the family’s history which will not ring a bell to those who are not familiar with Pride and Prejudice. In addition some characters are referred to by various names which adds more mystery to the proceedings. If you can just go with the flow, it’s great fun adding this layer to a classic tale.

In total, I felt the book was a tribute to the talents of both Jane Austen and P.D. James. The joining of the two talents is genius. Of necessity the focus is not so much on Elizabeth and Darcy. As a matter of fact I found their concluding conversation anti-climactic and not such a great ending.

Nevertheless , if you’re interested in a well-crafted English mystery with all the trappings of Downton Abbey, you must read Death Comes to Pemberley.

I give the book 3 7/8 liveried footmen.

Happy reading from Beverly!

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