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Death Comes to Pemberley Paperback – January 1, 2013
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“A magnificent novel. . . . Incomparably perfect.” —USA Today
“A glorious plum pudding of a whodunit.” —NPR, Fresh Air
“The queen of mystery has taken on the queen of literature, [and] the combination sings. . . . [James’] elegance and sly wit are in top form.” —The Plain Dealer
“The greatest pleasure of this novel is its unforced, effortless, effective voice… Not infrequently . . . one succumbs to the impression that it is Austen herself at the keyboard.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[James] is the greatest living writer of British crime fiction, and probably that genre’s most talented practitioner ever.” —The New York Times
“A novel of manners par excellence.” —The Boston Globe
“A major treat for any fan of Jane Austen . . . [and] a solidly entertaining period mystery.” —The Washington Post
“A novel of dark intrigue. . . . [which] Ms. James presents with informed assurance and in fine period detail.” —The Wall Street Journal
“If you appreciate mysteries as well as the Mighty Jane, this pleasant entertainment will do nicely. . . . It is a universe of dark meanings [and] hidden relationships.” —Los Angeles Times
“James rises well above the ever-growing pack of Austen-inspired authors, not only for her intimate familiarity with Austen’s work, but for her faultless replication of time, place and, most notably, Austen’s trademark writing style.” —Newark Star-Ledger
“With well-laid clues, James weaves a credible tale with a satisfying conclusion. . . . She stamps this enticing blend of two authors’ minds with her formidable intelligence and the generosity of spirit that has marked all her work.” —Richmond Times Dispatch
“Dazzling . . . Meticulously plotted . . . In my view Death Comes to Pemberley is as good as anything P.D. James has written and that is very high praise indeed… Long may she continue to delight and surprise us.” —Simon Brett, Sunday Express
“Brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James’s imagination.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“James takes Pride and Prejudice to places it never dreamed of, and does so with a charm that will beguile even the most demanding Janeite.” —London Evening Standard
“The final working-out shows all James’s customary ingenuity. . . . The stylistic pastiche is remarkably accomplished.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A pleasing and agreeable sequel… Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage… Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets.” —Publishers Weekly
“Satisfying. . . . [James is] an impeccable stylist and a psychological ins-and-outs maven.” —The Huffington Post
About the Author
P. D. James was the author of twenty books, many of which feature her detective hero Adam Dalgliesh and have been televised or filmed. She was the recipient of many honors, including the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature, and in 1991 was created Baroness James of Holland Park. She died in 2014.
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The glimpse of Jane and Lizzie's life six years after their marriage is, there's no other way to put it, simply tiresome. In fact, the only excitement that is brought about is attributed to the squanderings of the infamous Mr Wickham. Maybe I didn't get it right but Wickham and Darcy being referred to as brothers just makes me cringe. There are no clever or funny moments in the book and the murder mystery is rather resolved conveniently. I hate that Elizabeth and Darcy have a boring married life. The few things I did like about the book were the imaginative backstories for Wickham and Ms Younge. Also the references to Persuasion and Emma brought a reluctantant smile. I understand that this novel was written out if self indulgence that the author can clearly afford. And as a reader it served as a poor palliative for the longing that I always have for more of Darcy. But for me the Bennets and Darcys and Bingleys and all their acquaintances only convincingly come alive through the pen of Ms Austen.
There just isn't a lot of oomph to this novel. No sense of real mystery involving the murder and not enough character development which one may expect for a celebrated author who has decided to continue a classic story. James appears to devote more time to developing Darcy's character at the expense of Elizabeth's, whose beliefs and observations were the driving force in "Pride and Prejudice." The novel never really takes off and there is no sense of peril which is usually found in James's novels. People who enjoyed "Pride and Prejudice" will probably enjoy this book but people who enjoy PD James will be disappointed.
I have read and enjoyed most of James's novels, and "Pride and Prejudice" is one of my top favorite books. I was very excited to learn about a novel that combined them!
Sadly, this did not live up to my hopes and expectations at all.
Far too much of the first parts of the novel were devoted to reiterating- many times over- the basic plot of P&P. Since I think it unlikely that anyone who is not a fan of P&P would read this, we really did not need the constant harping on its plot- and even if someone had no familiarity with P&P, repeating its plot at least 3 times does not show respect for the reader.
And while the characters in P&P are vivid, here they all fade to gray. "Workmanlike" is the best way I can summarize what James did with Austen's vivid personalities. Even Lady Catherine was toned down!
Also, the murder mystery did not make much sense. I suppose it was a decent excuse to revisit the characters- and redeem some of the awful ones to some degree- but I found the resolution very unsatisfying, and the tying up of loose ends- especially as it pertains to the characters in various other Austen novels- to be a fairly pointless clever trick.
Darcy is not going to turn into a Sensitive New Age Guy. Lizzie is not going to turn into an indulgent helpmeet for him. Wickham is not going to change his spots. Et cetera.
James did do a lot of research into the way "great houses" worked, and the current legal system; I wish she had integrated that better with the vivid characters in the original P&P.