- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780307950659
- ISBN-13: 978-0307950659
- ASIN: 0307950654
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,208 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Death Comes to Pemberley Paperback – January 1, 2013
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Really, gentle reader, there are limits. When mystery grande dame P. D. James felt the mantle of Jane Austen fall on her shoulders, why didn’t she simply shrug it off? Instead, she has produced a straight-faced mystery—no zombies—in which a murdered body is found on the grounds of Darcy and Elizabeth’s stately home, Pemberley. James places a template of Austen characters and Austen-like language over a traditional mystery plot and even takes on the role of the omniscient Austen narrator herself. The mystery is set in 1803, six years after the wedding of Elizabeth and Darcy, with ample space given to catching us up on the recent doings of the Bennet family. On the mystery side, there’s plenty of action, from the discovery of Captain Denny’s body, through a trial, assorted deceptions and mix-ups, and love affairs. Unfortunately, though, if this is meant as an homage, it’s a pretty weak cup of tea, starting with a greatly diluted version of Austen’s famous “truth universally acknowledged” opening. James’ many fans will be pleased to see any kind of new book from the 91-year-old author, but discriminating Austen devotees are unlikely to appreciate the move from social comedy to murder. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This late addition to Knopf’s winter list will require some last-minute marketing, but it has two very bankable Englishwomen on its side: Austen and James. --Connie Fletcher --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
And I adore P.D. James, as do many readers of Brit-Fic Crime and Mystery novels. I thought that this book was either going to soar, or plunge. But the truth is, it did neither. It was a well-written revisit with old friends; much like the Lord Peter Wimsey we've seen in the last few years. Not extraordinary on their faces; not particularly fabulous mysteries; they survive on the sheer (nearly said whimsy) of visiting with old friends. For that, I thank James. The mystery was viable, albeit not particularly thrilling. In hindsight, I'm not sure that this is a marriage made in heaven. James' style is much, much darker, and her characters far less likeable, generally, than are Austen's well-loved pairs (Darcy and Elizabeth, Bingley and Jane). James' craft, of course, is first-rate...but it just didn't quite get there. I wish I could say I loved it, but I didn't. I would, in all likelihood, re-read it, just to see if, upon closer inspection, I think it's a better book than my first take on it, but usually, a book either wins my heart or doesn't. I'm either glued to it, or not. And while I read this entire book, and was moderately satisfied with it upon completion, it's just not magical.
However, for addicts of P&P, who need to see Darcy and Elizabeth again, who want to know what's happened with all the other characters, it's a decent read. Wait for it to be on sale, and then snuggle into a loveseat for a few hours. Grab some scones and tea. :-) It won't keep you glued to the seat, but as I said, given all the drivel out there trying to attach itself to the Austen name, this is certainly one of the best continuations of the book.