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Death Comes to Pemberley is thrilling sequel to the beloved classic Pride & Prejudice. It is set in 1803, about six years after the conclusion of Jane Austen’s novel. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for several years and have two children in the Pemberley nursery, to make Elizabeth’s happiness even more complete, Mr. Bingley and Jane live within seventeen miles of Pemberley, and there is even a prospective suitor for Georgina.
A peaceful, quiet, and happy life comes under threat for the Darcys one evening, when amidst preparations for the annual Lady Anne ball to be held the following evening, a chaise appears bringing with it chaos and havoc.
Out of the chaise comes a hysterical Lydia Wickham, screaming insistently that her husband, George Wickham has been murdered.
Police investigations, public hearings, trials, and court cases ensue.
At the time I began reading Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James, I had recently finished reading Pride and Prejudice. I love Pride and Prejudice, and after I finished reading it, I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to start reading another book, but I just couldn’t. I was still grieving the fact that Pride and Prejudice was over. I finally forced myself to pick up another book. That book just so happened to be Death Comes to Pemberley, and let me just say that it was amazing!
Death Comes to Pemberley was enough like a sequel to Pride and Prejudice that it helped me move on from my inability to read anything. It felt true to Jane Austen in more ways than one, and you could tell that the author cared deeply about the characters and their story.
It is fair to mention that Jane Austen herself would never have written such a story. P. D. James addresses this in her author’s note at the beginning of the book.
‘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 I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.”‘
Things I loved about Death Comes to Pemberley
One of the things that I absolutely love about Death Comes to Pemberley is the relationships between the characters. The loving relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy, the comradery between the Bingleys and the Darcys, and the tension between the Wickhams and the Darcys. In this way especially, P. D. James did a really great job of making you almost believe that her book could have been written by Jane Austen.
Among the other things I love about Death Comes to Pemberley are the cast of new characters, the engaging storyline, and how it offers a unique look into the politics of the era, as well as the legal and medical systems of Regency England, all of which are not really mentioned or emphasized in Jane Austen’s novels.
Things I could have done without in this book
There isn’t much in Death Comes to Pemberley that I could do without. However, there is one that annoyed me slightly, and it is kind of petty. That one thing is the somewhat lengthy prologue and the odd explanation throughout the book.
The prologue at the beginning of Death Comes to Pemberley is basically a reader’s digest version of Pride and Prejudice. It eventually goes past that and explains what some of the other characters like Kitty and Mary are up to at the time of the start of Death Comes to Pemberley. It might just be that I had very recently read Pride and Prejudice when I started reading Death Comes to Pemberley, so the story was still fresh in mind and that is why I found it annoying. But, it does mean that if you have never read Pride and Prejudice, you can certainly read Death Comes to Pemberley.
Some final notes about Death Comes to Pemberley
If you enjoy reading Death Comes to Pemberley, then you might want to check out the Masterpiece Mystery Mini Series Death Comes to Pemberley. It has been a while since I watched the mini series, but I remember that it is really good. It is very captivating, and even if you have read the book, you still sit on the edge of your seat and find yourself wondering what is going to happen. You can watch a trailer for it here.
Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James is an amazing book that is almost like a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. It is a very engaging mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. P. D. James managed the difficult task of imitating Jane Austen’s work without copying it, beautifully. The relationships in the book are represented so like to that which Austen portrayed in her novels. Mystery genre books are typically not my first pick, but this one is definantely worth the read. If you are a Jane Austen fan, who wants to read mroe about the Darcys and doesn’t mind the odd thrilling mystery story, then Death Comes to Pemberley, is the book for you!
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Happy Reading & Writing!