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on April 11, 2017
Neither my wife nor I enjoyed the novel. We did enjoy the original Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
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As a longtime "Jane-ite", I have always considered Jane Austen's work to be sacrosanct and not to be touched by other, lesser writers. I've stayed away from modern attempts to bring Austen's characters and stories - particularly those of "Pride and Prejudice" - to life in sequels. No one, I thought, had the literary "chops" to take Austen's characters and write a competent sequel. Then I heard that PD James, a mystery writer I had long admired, had taken a stab at writing a sequel.

The resulting novel - "Death Comes to Pemberly" - is an awkward combination of mystery and comedy-of-manners and doesn't quite come off. The two genres don't quite come together, even in Ms James' deft hands. Maybe it was the choice of centering the story on George Wickham and a murder he is being tried for having committed. Wickham has never been a particularly interesting character in the original novel; he was the center around which events took place, but I never wanted to know more about what happened to him after the novel ended. And, in fact, that raises a particular question in my mind. Who ARE the characters in "P&P" I would want to read about? I can't think of a single one, actually.

Maybe that's because I figured a long time ago that "Pride and Prejudice" was a completed story. There's a reason an author doesn't write sequels; maybe everything that can be said about a cast of character has already been said. That's what Margaret Mitchell always felt about "Gone With The Wind". And Jane Austen certainly didn't return to any of older books when writing new ones. (In this book, James writes a little about the "Eliot" family").

So what about PD James' book? It seemed like an "adequate" mystery and an "adequate" comedy-of-manners. I've read most of James' back list and I wouldn't put this book near the top of the list. But, on the other hand, sometimes "adequate" can be a good read, which this book is. I'm not sure anyone who isn't familiar with Jane Austen would bother reading it, but for Austen fans, it's a suitable read for a rainy day.
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on January 23, 2012
P.D. James has always been one of my favourite authors and her newest book is a delightful change from her regular characters. Her prologue, to review what we know of the Darcy Family, was perfect - enough to remind us of the characters but not too much to be boring. Then she carries on with an excellent who-dunnit that comes up to her past standards. I couldn't put the book down it was so good! And she kept us guessing right to the end! You won't be disappointed with this book!
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on June 20, 2012 the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters.'

This novel is set in 1803, some years after `Pride and Prejudice' was written, but before publication. It's `Pride and Prejudice' revisited and expanded with hints of `Emma' and `Persuasion', and an overlay of murder. Elizabeth Bennet has married Fitzwilliam Darcy, and is now the mistress of Pemberley. The couple has two sons - Fitzwilliam (nearly 5) and Charles (just 2)
It is the eve of the annual Lady Anne's ball when the tranquillity of the Darcys is shattered. An unexpected carriage careers up the driveway, containing Elizabeth's sister Lydia (the one who eloped with George Wickham) screaming that her husband is dead. A search party is despatched, and finds George Wickham in the woods, drunk, dishevelled, and bloodstained, beside the body of his friend Captain Denny. It looks a lot like George Wickham has murdered Captain Denny (he even admits that it's his fault). But is it? And what's the truth about the mysterious woman seen prowling around the Pemberley woods?

As the obvious suspect, Wickham is hauled off to gaol. Yet Darcy considers him innocent, despite the fact that he has nothing but contempt for Wickkham. After all, Wickham had tried to seduce Darcy's 15 year old sister to try to get her fortune. Elizabeth has her own uncomfortable recollections: she once found Wickham attractive and had temporarily detested Darcy as a consequence.

I'm happy enough to think the worst of George Wickham, and quite enjoyed the various twists in solving the murder case. I liked the portrait of Pemberley and the relative happiness that Elizabeth has achieved, despite the onerous responsibilities associated with running the Pemberley household and her social obligations. I liked, too, the way in which Ms James recreates a version of Jane Austen's early 19th world. But for me, this novel is not a particularly satisfying Austen sequel. And, because of the constraints imposed by the Austen characters and setting, it isn't as effective as a piece of crime fiction as it otherwise might be.

`I have never approved of protracted dying. It is an affectation in the aristocracy; in the lower classes it is merely an excuse for avoiding work.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on January 6, 2012
_Death Comes to Pemberley is a treat for die-hard Austen fans as it reads like one of her works with just enough suspense to keep the reader interested.In some parts was rather slow reading but that too is an Austen characteristic.I found it good entertainment.I would,however,recommend that a reader have some prior knowledge of the works of Jane Austen in order to fully appreciate P.D.James creation.
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on March 21, 2012
I was expecting A LOT more from this book especially seeing as there was so much hype built up upon its release last December. The truth? It was too short, too boring in spots and the ending was highly predictable. I quickly discovered who the murderer was about half-way through the book and that's not a good sign in any mystery novel. A good mystery novel has shocking plot twists and sordid backstories; this one had absolutely nothing.

It's worth a read if you manage to get your hands on a free copy, but I certainly wouldn't recommend purchasing it. Go to your local library and see if there is a copy available there for you if you're desperate to read this book.
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on March 3, 2012
Despite having written this book when she was 87 years old, P.D.Jmes hasn't lost a stroke. She can still keep us glued to the story and maintains her highly intelligent, analytical approach. This book is Jane Austin's "Pride and Prejudice" five years later. A number of Austin's characters re-appear and, in the course of a murder and its solution, we even get a few questions answered that perplexed us in the original. To me, the most remarkable achievement of "Death Comes to Pemberley" is the precise rendering of Jane Austin's style and of the social mores of the period. You'll love it; I did.
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'The familiar and well-loved landscape looked alien, the river winding like molten silver ' mysterious and eerie, where nothing human could ever live or move.' As P.D. James' scenic description suggests, death has indeed come to Pemberley. James' newest murder-mystery resurrects the characters of "Pride and Prejudice": witty, practical Lizzy, arrogant, caring Darcy and dashing, villainous Wickham. Each displays interests, fears and prejudices while pursuing self-satisfying goals and exhibiting a preoccupation with wealth. The supporting cast of servants also features prominently and garners necessary attention.

When Lydia Wickham arrives at Pemberley, uninvited and screaming that her husband has been murdered, an investigation ensues. But the body turns out to be that of Captain Denny, a friend of the incoherent, grief-stricken and alcohol saturated Wickham. Suffice it to say, numerous suspects appear, false leads come up, a court case follows and the guilty party is finally uncovered.

P.D. James told The Daily Telegraph that she wanted to combine her 'two lifelong enthusiasms, namely for writing detective fiction and for the novels of Jane Austen.' At 91, James certainly displays mastery of her material and writes a competent, historically accurate sequel to a beloved classic. Unfortunately, the middle 50% of the book could be summed up in a single paragraph, not quite making up for the excitement of the first and last two sections.
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In "Death Comes to Pemberly," the great P.D. James imagines what happens after the end of Jane Austen's famous novel, "Pride and Prejudice": Elizabeth and Darcy are married, the parents of two young children and the wealthy owners of the Pemberly estate. Elizabeth's sister Jane is married to Bingley and they live not too far away; sister Lydia has married the reprehensible Wickham and they are Not Received at Pemberly due to Wickham's previous behaviour with Darcy's younger sister, Georgiana. All seems settled and quiet, until Lydia appears one night, uninvited, screaming that Wickham has been murdered. Darcy and the other males in the household mount a search and find Wickham very much alive, but his soldier companion, Captain Denny, is quite dead and worse, Wickham (in his cups) keeps stating that "I've killed him" and "it's my fault!" Naturally he is arrested and brought to trial, and Darcy and Elizabeth must try to untangle the complicated situation and find proof of the much-disliked Wickham's innocence.... I hate to confess that I've never read "Pride and Prejudice" (although I've seen films based on it), but I *have* read other novels written in Austen's time and it seems to me that James gets the style perfectly; and her always clever plotting and deep characterizations are up to the mark here too. At 91, this lady is still producing exquisite work; I imagine that those who know Austen's original novel will pick up on nuances that I didn't, but either way, "Death Comes to Pemberly" comes highly recommended.
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on August 16, 2012
I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and the mystery genre. I have been reading Stephanie Barrow's Jane Austen mysteries series for over a decade now and was excited at the prospect of an acclaimed mystery novelist turning the world of Pride and Prejudice into a murder mystery. But I was sadly disappointed. As a mystery novel, it is boring and lacks the suspenseful twists and turns that boggle the mind. As a Jane Austen-esque genre novel, it provides an adequate continuing story, but P.D. James just simply lacks the ability to enthrall the reader with the wit and satire of English upper crust life, as well as the colorful Jane Austen prose (but honestly few have accomplished this in the now popular genre). It just fails in both the novel's objectives. I will stick with the Jane Austen mysteries. Stephanie Barrow has just set too high a standard.
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