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Thread: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James (Sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice)

  1. #1
    Registered User SilentMute's Avatar
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    Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James (Sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice)


    Years ago, when I tried to read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, I turned against her as an author. Granted, I was young when I attempted this novel...and this is one of my objections to enforced reading in schools. I feel that teachers often assign books that may not be quite appropriate for an immature audience, and that this could cause kids to turn against reading.

    I couldn't understand the appeal for Jane Austen for years. From what I could see, nothing really happened in her books. People went to parties. There was an awkward heroine that wasn't popular with her neighbors. In Pride and Prejudice, the worst thing that happens is that the younger sister runs off with a man. Granted, this probably was a social disaster in those days. Still, there was no BIG EVENT. There was no murder, no war, no disfiguring accident, no suicide, etc. People claimed Jane Austen was gay literature, but I didn't see any indication of that either. Perhaps you could consider it a romance novel, but there certainly was no hot action.

    Then a year or so ago, I read Seth Graham's spoof on Pride and Prejudice, which was loosely based on the story--and added the element of zombies. Oddly enough, it wasn't until I read his book that I realized that Jane Austen's books were supposed to be about social commentary. Curious, I finally got around to reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. At first, I wasn't impressed. I was yawning the first several chapters, and I realized another reason why I hate Jane Austen was that her characters reminded me of family members I despise.

    However, by the time Elizabeth got to Hunsford, I was enjoying the book. Amazed at this, I am now trying to recount my time to see if alien abduction and brainwashing is involved.


    Just as I finished Pride and Prejudice, having liked it, I discovered from Costco magazine that P.D. James had written a sequel to it called Death Comes to Pemberley. Intrigued, I checked it out of the library. The author changed some things. Kitty was the daughter that stayed at home instead of Mary, and Colonel Fitzwilliam's personality is altered in a way I didn't much care for. However, all in all, I thought the author did a very good job in keeping the "feel" of the book and characters. I think any Jane Austen fan, particularly of Pride and Prejudice, could enjoy this. Adding to the appeal, it is a murder mystery.

    The book takes place five or six years after the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Jane are happily married. They apparently are not very imaginative when it comes to baby names. Elizabeth is preparing for a large ball, a tradition in the Darcy household. However, a wrench is thrown into her plans when her sister Lydia comes to Pemberley, hysterically claiming her husband has been murdered. It turns out, though, it isn't Wickham that was killed. It was his friend Mr. Denny. Wickham is the prime suspect in his death.

    Mr. Darcy, of course, is not thrilled to see Wickham. However, he has doubts--despite the man's many flaws--that Wickham is a killer.

    There are little side stories going on that add to the mystery. The servants of Pemberley claim to have seen the ghost of a woman reputed to haunt the grounds, which just so happen to be in the same place the murder occurred. Colonel Fitzwilliam went riding the night of the murder and is vague about his reasons for going out so late in terrible weather. He is also seen burning a letter.

    A family that works at Pemberley refuses to leave the cottage, which is also near the murder site, even though their safety is questionable. Elizabeth wonders why.

    Georgiana Darcy has grown into a self-assured woman. Colonel Fitzwilliam desires to marry her, but Elizabeth isn't certain that Georgiana's heart doesn't belong somewhere else.

    Most of the characters in Pride and Prejudice make a return in this book. I think the author pretty much stayed true to their characters and gave some additional insight into existing tensions. The first chapter gives a summary of the events that occurred in Pride and Prejudice, though it does change some things. The book has an initial slow start, but it remains interesting--and once Lydia arrives, it keeps a nice pace. I'm pretty good at solving mysteries, and I did guess the suspect before it was revealed. However, it wasn't too easy to guess whodunit, and it should be a good surprise. I found it to be a very satisfying read, and I do recommend it.
    I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty, I'm just glad to have a glass.

  2. #2
    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    Elizabeth and Jane are happily married. They apparently are not very imaginative when it comes to baby names.

    Good review, Silent. I'll keep it in mind.
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
    "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Bonzai
    "Some people say I done alright for a girl." Melanie Safka

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