Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James is a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but with a difference–it’s all about a murder. The action takes place six years after Elizabeth and Mr Darcy’s marriage. They are now the parents of two boys and set to host an annual ball. Jane and Mr Bingley arrive at Pemberley and join Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy’s sister, Georgiana. On the eve of the ball the peace at Pemberley is disturbed when a hysterical Lydia Wickham arrives unannounced, screaming that her husband George Wickham is dead.
Something sinister has happened in the woods near Pemberley which will drag Wickham back into Darcy and Elizabeth’s lives.
I will leave the plot there. You will have to read the book to find out who has been killed and how Wickham is involved.
Death Comes to Pemberley is told from Darcy and Elizabeth’s point-of-view which should have been great but it didn’t fully grab me. For starters, Elizabeth is not given much to do or say. Most of her trademark wit and intelligence is missing from this story. I felt like she was severely underutilized in this book. If Jane Austen had written this plot, Lizzie would have been the sleuth in this story and have solved the mystery. Jane or Georgiana may have helped. Instead Darcy gets a lot of scenes but even he leaves the detective stuff to the local authorities.
The other thing I wanted to see was Elizabeth and Darcy interacting with each other. I wanted to see their passion. Instead they only have a couple of scenes together and don’t even kiss. In one scene they stay in twin beds. Seriously!!!
But there are characters and scenes that I thought the author got right and that Jane Austen would have approved of. P.D. James wrote characters like Lydia and Mr Collins in the spirit of Austen. But she made me dislike Colonel Fitzwilliam which I didn’t appreciate. There was also a lot of needless repetition of information. One character would outline the evidence word for word. Then a chapter later it was repeated by someone else. Still it was worth reading on to the end as I liked how the mystery was all tied together.
I remember watching the TV series based on this novel ages ago and thinking that it wasn’t too bad. Although Elizabeth had lost some of her spark. Perhaps marriage and children changes a person and I admit that a murder at Pemberley would make Lizzie turn serious. I have read a lot of Pride and Prejudice inspired books over the years and, though I find them enjoyable, none of them were as brilliant as Jane Austen’s writing. Death Comes to Pemberley does a reasonably good job but for me it lacked much of the content I was really hoping to see.
Verdict: Read this if you are dying for another book about Mr Darcy and Elizabeth and also like a good mystery.
What do you think about Pride and Prejudice inspired books? Do you like them? Would you recommend any?