P.D. James is well known for her detective fiction. In her latest novel she combines her passion for Jane Austen with her aptitude for writing detective fiction.
Death Comes To Pemberley is set six years after the marriage of Elizabeth Bennet to Mr Darcy. Initially it feels as if the reader is being taken on a forbidden journey. Do we really need to delve past the courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy and trespass on the murky waters of their marriage?
P.D. James has kept all the characters true to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The qualities and flaws in Austen's characters we fell in love with in Pride and Prejudice all remain in this book. The Gardiners are familiar to us with their affable nature. Jane and Mr Bingley are similarly kind. Even Mr Bennet makes a suitable appearance, in Mr Darcy’s library. P.D. James has cleverly retained the essence of Pride and Prejudice relieving the reader of any unease as the book ventures into new territory.
There are a few new characters in this book, but many of the ‘originals’ remain to satisfy the die-hard Jane Austen fan. P. D. James gives a great deal of background using language similar to Jane Austen. The fear of Pemberley being ‘polluted’ is mentioned several times. A murder on the grounds of Pemberley is certainly grounds for a scandal and a great deal of pollution.
As a self confessed Jane Austen fan P.D. James has even managed to include several references to characters from Austen’s Emma. She writes with elegance bringing to life the era (1803) and her credible characters.
At the age of 91 P.D. James has written a compelling detective story based on her love of Jane Austen's work.
She begins her book with a touching note, paying tribute to Jane Austen:
I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation, especially as in the final chapter of Mansfield Park Miss Austen made her views plain:
‘Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.’
No doubt she would have replied to my apology by saying that, had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written the story herself, and done it better.
If you are a Jane Austen fan Death Comes To Pemberley will not be disappoint.
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