Death Comes to Pemberley
by P.D. James
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Knopf
The world is classic Jane Austen. The mystery is vintage P.D. James.
The year is 1803, and Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham – Elizabeth Bennet’s younger, unreliable sister – stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.
Two great literary minds – master of suspense P.D. James and literary icon Jane Austen – come together in Death Comes to Pemberley, a bestselling historical crime fiction tribute to Pride and Prejudice. Conjuring the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mark Darcy and combining the trappings of Regency British society with a classic murder mystery, James creates a delightful mash-up that will intrigue any Janeite.
Out of all the books I borrowed from my internship’s library, this book is the one I dreaded reading the most. I’m really afraid this book will ruin my hard-earned love for Pride and Prejudice. It took me 3 months on my first try, some spark notes pages, and the 2005 movie for me to become fully in love with this story. So I think it’s very understandable that I was reluctant to read this retelling.
But that wasn’t the case! This book started few years after P&P ends, and managed to capture perfectly the domestic bliss I imagined for the Darcys and the Bingleys. It also captures the social situation of the era and the grandeur of Pemberley. It’s something I didn’t expect, but I really appreciated how easily it immersed me in Austen’s world.
I also love how much of this book is from Darcy’s point of view. I just love knowing things from his point of view and how he think things, how he handles the murder mystery and the political intrigue that will impact him as the result from this scandal.
I really think the mystery is very well done, I didn’t guessed who the culprit was. I just wished it focused more on the evidence and story and stuff. The ending just felt too convinient for this retelling and the original story. I also wished Elizabeth was more involved in the story, because here, she’s nothing but typical housewife from that era and that was frustrating. Where was the clever and bright Elizabeth from the original story??
Overall, I really liked the book and the mystery, except for some minor bump in the end. I think it’s a really great read to close a terrible reading month.