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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Book Review

Title: Death Comes to Pemberley
Author: P.D. James
Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2011
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery

First Lines:
It was generally agreed by the female residents of Meryton that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters. Meryton, a small market town in Hertfordshire, is not on the route of any tours of pleasure, having neither beauty of setting nor a distinguished history, while its only great house, Netherfield Park, although impressive, is not mentioned in books about the county's notable architecture. (From the Prologue)
Goodreads Description:
The world is classic Jane Austen. The mystery is vintage P.D. James.

The year is 1803, and Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham - Elizabeth Bennet's younger, unreliable sister - stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Two great literary minds - master of suspense P.D. James and literary icon Jane Austen - come together in Death Comes to Pemberley, a bestselling historical crime fiction tribute to Pride and Prejudice. Conjuring the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mark Darcy and combining the trappings of Regency British society with a classic murder mystery, James creates a delightful mash-up that will intrigue any Janeite.

From the bestselling author of The Murder Room, Children of Men and A Certain Justice, comes a wonderful mixture of the nation's greatest romance and best-loved crime fiction. In 2013, this novel was adapted as a miniseries by the BBC, starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet and Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham.

My Review:

P.D. James picks up Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice six years after Mr. Darcy's marriage to Elizabeth Bennett. Those of you who have read Austen's book will be familiar with these beloved characters. 

Here's the book trailer to give you a gist of the storyline:

Our book club is discussing this title on Monday. It took me a little while to get into the story since the language is a bit antiquated in keeping with the writing style of Austen's time. Once I was drawn in though, I found the plot intriguing and was challenged to uncover the identity of the murderer as well as the truth behind some underlying questions. Was there a woman in the woodland? If so, who was she? What was Colonel Fitzwilliam really up to on his nighttime ride? Is he or Mr. Alveston the most suitable choice of a husband for Darcy's sister Georgiana? Is the accused guilty or innocent of the crime with which he's charged?

James does a skillful job of handling Austen's characters, keeping them consistent with the original narrative. Austen fans will have nothing to complain about with this continuation and will likely be quite satisfied with the story's conclusion.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Book Club Aids:

Globe and Mail Review
New York Times Review
P.D. James article
Book discussion questions 
Reading group guide


  1. I started watching the mini-series based on this book and couldn't get interested in it. I wonder if I'd like the book.


    1. I haven't tried the mini-series but was thinking of doing so after enjoying the book. I may not like the TV series; for me, not all British TV is enjoyable. It has a certain je ne sais quoi :)

      Give the book a try and let me know what you think!


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