Death Comes to Pemberley

By P.D. James

Source: Library

My Rating: 3 / 5

I have read Pride and Prejudice a couple of times, have seen a couple of movie adaptations, and also read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. When I heard about this book, I was apprehensive, as I’ve never read anything by P.D. James, but  I was also eager to to read more about Elizabeth and Darcy and their world. I put my name on the library’s waiting list and snatched up the e-book when it became available.

Here is the Kobo store’s summary (although I borrowed this as an e-book from the library):

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome, healthy sons in the Pemberley nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live within seventeen miles, the ordered and secure life of Pemberley seems unassailable, and Elizabeth’s happiness in her marriage is complete. But their peace is threatened and old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled on the eve of the annual autumn ball. The Darcys and their guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland, and as it pulls up, Lydia Wickham, an uninvited guest, tumbles out, screaming that her husband has been murdered.

I didn’t love this book, but I liked it. Despite the mystery, it wasn’t a book I could read quickly. It was a more leisurely read, and because I already knew some of the characters, it was a comfortable read as well. It was nice to slip back into the world created in Pride and Prejudice, with familiar characters such as Jane, Bingley, Elizabeth, and Darcy.

I’ve read a fair number of negative reviews, but I think I was able to enjoy this because I’m nowhere near an expert in Jane Austen and haven’t read Pride and Prejudice in quite some time, and (I’m almost embarrassed to admit this) I haven’t read anything else by Jane Austen, so I am certainly no expert on her writing or works. I felt like I could enjoy this book as an extension of a book I’d read with characters that I recognized.

I will admit that it took me about 75-100 pages to feel like I was really getting into it, and to me, that’s too long. If I don’t feel like I’ve been grabbed by a book within the first few pages, it becomes a bit of chore to pick it up again and read it, and I did feel that way, initially, with this one.

The mystery behind the murder in the woods of Pemberley, and Wickham’s involvement, unravelled at its own pace but I felt that the killer’s identity was hinted throughout. However, there is more than just the killer’s identity to discover in this book, as it turns out the murder is wrapped up in a larger secret or plot, which involves a number of characters. It was interesting to see how so many characters in the book were, in some way, involved.

I enjoyed reading about the legal system of the time, as well as the development of certain medical techniques that were useful in determining time and cause of death, but there was also a lot of exposition that just felt clunky at times.

Overall, though, I liked this book. I didn’t race through it, but it all tied together in a fairly happy ending, and who can complain about that?

4 Responses to Death Comes to Pemberley

  1. Lorie says:

    Your thoughts about this book mirror my own…in fact there were times that I wasn’t sure I was going to get through it. Not that the writing wasn’t good, and the characters didn’t ring true to the original – those things were solid. Maybe it was the pacing. The almost too leisurely unfolding of events. I thought the last 30 pages were great – real page turners. And while it wouldn’t have been true to the integrity of what P.D.James set out to do, I wish the entire book had grabbed me the way the end of the book did. Maybe it’s a sign I should pepper my reading with the odd classic. Then again….maybe not. 🙂

  2. Lorie says:

    There’s this really cool person I’ve met on twitter. She’s political, opinionated, smart, funny – and I’ve just discovered she’s a published author, too. I’ve just read a review of her book “The Key To The Golden Firebird” on the Goodreads site and it looks like a something you and I would enjoy reading! So, check it out and hopefully I’ve given you another one to add to the towering To Be Read pile of books! (By the way, her twitter name is @maureenjohnson if you want to follow her, too!)

  3. Lorie says:

    Yes! I didn’t realize it was the same author, but you’re right!

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