Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Death Comes To Pemberley by P. D. James
Published December 2011 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing
Source: thanks for loaning me this one, Linda!
In their six years of marriage, Elizabeth and Darcy have forged a peaceful, happy life for their family at Pemberley, Darcy’s impressive estate. Her father is a regular visitor; her sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; the marriage prospects for Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, are favorable. And preparations for their annual autumn ball are proceeding apace. But on the eve of the ball, chaos descends. Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister who, with her husband, has been barred from the estate, arrives in a hysterical state—shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. Plunged into frightening mystery and a lurid murder trial, the lives of Pemberley’s owners and servants alike may never be the same.
"Frightening mystery?" Not so much. "Lurid murder trial?" Evidently I was reading about another murder trial; not much lurid to the big trial I read.
Plus, I rarely like someone to mess with my beloved Darcy and Elizabeth. James did a fine job of bringing readers of Death Comes To Pemberley up to speed on the source material (although why you would have chosen it without knowing about Pemberley I have no idea). And then she started playing with the characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and what readers of that book know of them. The problem for me was that she flattened them. Took away the witty banter, killed the romance, added a story line between two characters that gave me the heeby-jeebies.
Maybe if I was one of those people who needed to be brought up to speed with the characters and their back story, I would actually have liked the book better. But not much. Because there wasn't much that surprised me in the end and it hardly seemed possible that so many supposedly intelligent people could have so easily missed so much.
Have you read this one? Have you read other books by P. D. James? I have a couple other books by her but right now I'm just not feeling any urge to read them. But it hardly seems possible that a writer that was so popular wouldn't have better books out there.