Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Death Comes To Pemberley by P. D. James

Death Comes To Pemberley by P. D. James
Published December 2011 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing
Source: thanks for loaning me this one, Linda!

Publisher's Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:

"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.


  1. P D James is a favourite author of mine. This is one of the few books I have still to read. Thanks for the review.

  2. It's a shame you've been put off by the Pemberley book. I've read nearly every one of her contemporary crime novels, although that was probably in the late 80s/90s and haven't gone back to them. She and Ruth Rendall were my favourite crime writers at the time. I think she wrote the Pemberley book as an admirer of Austen's work. I've got to the first trial and now finding it hard going and slow and realise why I skim read the book the first time around and was disappointed in the author's choice of subject. Even the social etiquette aspect is not interesting me at this point in the book. I'm rather ambivalent about Austen spin-offs. I need to head over to the discussions to see what others think.

  3. I had heard such mixed reviews of this book. I decided to pass it by. There's a TV adaptation that I also haven't watched. I did have P.D. James on my list of authors that I ought to have read, but honestly, I'm not sure I'll ever get around to picking up one of her books. Maybe on audio.

  4. The miniseries on netflix lovely... sounds like my opting for the movie over the book was a good decision.

  5. I haven't read this one. I have read two of her earlier books, the first two in her Adam Dalgliesh series, and enjoyed them. They are quiet mysteries compared to many others I have read, but I liked the way James got into her character's heads. I'm sorry this one wasn't better. I admit to not being a huge fan of spin offs, when favorite literary characters become stars in someone else's tale.

  6. I decided early on that I would pass on this one. I even received a free copy and passed it along to my JASNA group to pass around--I have yet to find anyone who actually likes the book.

    I haven't actually read any P.D. James books--not sure I will get to her.

  7. I like James but I wouldn't say she's a fast read. She has a tendency to get bogged down in little details. I've found her books work really well for audio though. I listened to Shroud for a Nightingale not too long ago and enjoyed it. It's a sizable book and I think I would've ended up skimming sections and missing out on some of the nuances if I was reading but with audio I paid better attention. I haven't read this one so I can't compare but I've definitely heard some mixed reviews on it.