Death Comes To Pemberley by P.D. James

by A Latter-day Bluestocking

P.D. James who is better known for her mystery novels featuring Adam Dalgliesh, a poet policeman, has written a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. 

I have to say I don’t love this offering.  It did have some high points but despite re-introducing favorite characters it lacks a certain appeal.  The characters never come to life as they do in the original.  Darcy is broadened as an individual but Elizabeth is relegated to a secondary character; no more is she the charming and witty young girl of Jane Austen’s novel.  With every turn of the page I am expecting her former personality to reveal itself and it never does.  It’s almost as if marriage has made her dull.

P.D. James states in an interview that she had been dwelling on combining her two great enthusiasms, the novels of Jane Austen and writing detective fiction, that she longed to write of Elizabeth and Darcy happily married, with children in the nursery, and everything going well and peaceful and to disrupt such orderliness with a ghastly murder.  Sounds like a great premise except the murder is trite, there is unnecessary commentary on the Napoleonic wars, a plot-line with a character which is introduced and ended in a very unsatisfactory manner, and there is a very forced and unimaginative explanation for the murder.

The only parts that were of great interest were the scenes taking place during the inquest and during the trial in the courtroom.  P.D. James is clearly comfortable writing these and it is here that the narrative gains momentum.

Bravo for P.D. James for her attempt but in the end it wasn’t the best “sequel” I’ve ever read.