Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley-1

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a well-written Austen fan fic novel will receive many readers and a BBC miniseries. I picked up Death Comes to Pemberley because I heard about the Masterpiece show and I always try to read the book before I see the screen adaptation. This book was really fun to read for several reasons:

1. James imitates Austen’s style remarkably well, down to that pronouncing opening line.

2. Original characters, like the servants of Pemberley and Darcy’s fellow magistrates, are described with the playfulness and sass of Austen.

3. Mentions of other Austen characters, particularly those from Persuasion and Emma, in the form of friends of friends about whom the Darcys gossip.

4. Tying up narrative loose strings and unresolved issues from Pride and Prejudice like Elizabeth’s relationship with Charlotte Collins (nee Lucas), Miss Darcy’s marriage, marriages for the other Bennett girls, and further character development from Darcy.

5. Watching Wickham finally learn his lesson.

The story is a mystery, but none of the characters really play detective. Instead of investigating, they kind of let the mystery unfold around them. On the eve of the annual ball at Pemberley, a body is discovered in the woods, and the infamous Wickham is the prime suspect. There’s a busybody magistrate, a country inquest, and a trial in London with a dramatic surprise ending. Looking forward to the adaptation. Masterpiece always does it right.

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