Death Comes To Pemberley

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Death Comes To Pemberley

by P.d. James

Knopf Canada | December 6, 2011 | Hardcover

Death Comes To Pemberley is rated 2.6364 out of 5 by 11.
In a marvellous, thrilling re-creation of the world of Pride and Prejudice, P.D. James fuses her lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen with her own great talent for writing crime fiction.

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome, healthy sons in the Pemberley nursery, Elizabeth''s beloved sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live within seventeen miles, the ordered and secure life of Pemberley seems unassailable, and Elizabeth''s happiness in her marriage is complete. But their peace is threatened and old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled on the eve of the annual autumn ball. The Darcys and their guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley''s wild woodland, and as it pulls up, Lydia Wickham, an uninvited guest, tumbles out, screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Death Comes to Pemberley is a powerful work of fiction, as rich in its compelling story, in its evocation of place, and its gripping psychological and emotional insight, as the very best of P. D. James. She brings us back masterfully and with delight to much-loved characters, illuminating the happy but threatened marriage of the Darcys with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted mystery.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 9.53 × 6.4 × 1.07 in

Published: December 6, 2011

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307362035

ISBN - 13: 9780307362032

Found in: Mystery and Suspense

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Read! I really enjoyed this book, seeing as how I have read the Pride
Date published: 2014-07-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was ok, but a bit slow-moving In this book, James continues the story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Six years later, they are married and living at Pemberley. The night before they are to host a ball, one of Elizabeth's younger sisters comes in a panic, screaming that her husband is out in the woods and might have been shot! Some of the men go to investigate. At the start of the book, I was reminded of Jane Austen's style of writing, with the long descriptions and such. I don't normally like really descriptive stuff, but I really enjoyed P&P. It was nice that I already knew the characters a bit (though it's been a few years since I read it). I did wonder for a while when the “death” was going to come about (it took a little while). Even after it did, though, the pace didn't really pick up all that much. It was kind of slow, but I would still consider the book “o.k.”. I'm sure it helped that I knew the characters already. It just wasn't an overly exciting read, I didn't think.
Date published: 2013-08-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Jane Austen is weeping... Death Comes to Pemberley by famous British crime novelist P.D. James is fan fiction. That’s right: P.D. James borrowed characters and settings made famous by Jane Austen and wrote them into a new story which takes place six years after Elizabeth and Darcy marry. That’s essentially what fan fiction is; writers (albeit, generally amateur writers) find new ways to breathe life into familiar characters. Because James is a crime writer, she wrote a mystery (although a relatively tame one, even by my standards.) Fan fiction is (according to Wikipedia) “is a broadly-defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published.” I would have agreed with that definition except for all the fan fiction that has found its way into bookstores recently (Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, literally started its life as Twilight fanfiction; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Android Karenina are two examples from Quirk Classics). Perhaps I am misinterpreting the definition of fan fiction, but to me when you borrow another writer’s characters and just give them a new plot – that’s fan fiction. Yes, even if it’s a parody. (Fan fiction writers write parodies all the time.) But, hey, I’m a huge fan of fan fiction and so pointing it out isn’t meant as a criticism. Even Pulitzer Prize winning author, Michael Chabon understands the merits of derivative fiction. In his book of essays Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands he says: " …all literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeineid onward, is fan fiction. That is why Harold Bloom’s notion of the anxiety of influence has always rung so hollow to me. Through parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us and that we have come of age loving – amateurs – we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence, have left for us, hoping to pass on to our own readers – should we be lucky enough to find any – some of the pleasure that we ourselves have taken in the stuff we love to get in on the game. All novels are sequels; influence is bliss." No matter the source material, all literature, ultimately, has to stand on its own two feet. Readers needn’t be a fan of Austen – or even know who she is – to read Death Comes to Pemberley because in the opening chapter James fills us in on the backstory. Once readers have the lay of the land, they can jump into the mystery which for me was only so-so. I like Austen fine, although I wouldn’t say I am a huge fan. I love a good mystery. I don’t have any problem with dense, old-fashioned prose (really good fan fiction mimics the original author’s style and recreates characters that are recognizable to readers of the original work). But Death Comes to Pemberley was a big YAWN. Seriously: nothing happens. Elizabeth and Darcy are madly in love – although they spend virtually no time together. Elizabeth is preparing for Pemberley’s yearly Lady Anne’s ball when her younger sister, Lydia, arrives screaming that her husband George Wickham has been murdered in Pemberley Wood. Wickham is a bad apple and has been a constant source of embarrassment for Darcy. When it turns out it’s not Wickham who is dead but another male who was traveling with him, Darcy isn’t sure Wickham actually committed the crime. It’s not much to make a mystery meal out of, but James fills page after page with lengthy descriptions of relationships and manners and protocol and the moon on the woods and it was so S-L-O-W. If it hadn’t been our first book club pick (and by a new member, no less) I would have abandoned it, for sure. I kept plodding along, but for me, the original charm of the Elizabeth/Darcy relationship was absent and the rest of the book just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Date published: 2012-09-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Eight Bookcases Check out my review of James' work on my blog at: http://8bookcases.blogspot.ca/2012/07/death-comes-to-pemberley-by-pd-james.html
Date published: 2012-07-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Did not meet its potential Once in a while I love to read a good mystery novel so Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James was the perfect choice for me. The book got off to a good start, P.D. James wrote an Author's Note which was amusing and the prologue remind us who was who and where they would fit into the big picture as it related to this novel. I was relaxed and ready to enjoy what was to follow. The first few chapters had attention to detail, dialogue flowed and the storyline was moving well. Then the murder takes place and everything shifts. The book becomes stilted, dialogue is forced and worse she somehow takes the life out of the rich characters so by the end they are one dimensional and boring. The NY Times' reviewer Charles McGrath wrote 'If the novel has a weakness, oddly, it's the mystery, which by Ms. James's standards is pretty tame and uncomplicated.' Translated it was boring, I felt no eagerness to see what was going to happen next instead found myself reading it in the hope that it would 'pick up'. James also falls back on what I consider to be a lazy writer's trick of writing scenes which gather certain people in a room so that parts of the story can be revealed en masse. She drops characters who might have added some substance until all we are left with is Darcy rambling on about all his mistakes and how he is going to be a better man and a simpering Elizabeth. Even the revelation of who committed the murder was cliché and left the reader feeling that this was all a waste of time. P.D. James begins Death Comes to Pemberley by stating that 'if Jane Austen had wanted to dwell in such odious subjects (as murder) she would have written it herself and done it better'; I am not sure that I couldn't have written a worthier book.
Date published: 2012-03-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Embarrassing. This book is a huge disappointment. It neither delivers as a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, nor as a mystery novel itself. There is barely any mystery involved, and no effort on the part of the one dimensional characters to solve what little mystery there is. A detective was introduced, and promptly forgotten about, never to return to the story. Why bother to build up Selwyn or give him such long, rambling backstory when he scarcely played a part in the novel? The author's incredibly vain and thinly veiled name dropping of Harriet Smith, and Anne Elliot was repugnant to me, and a pretty shameless ploy to squeeze some more fame out of Jane Austen's own works. But let's face facts, that's all this book really was. I found ALL of the characters appearing from of Pride and Prejudice to be so far off the mark in their speech and personalities, it seemed to me like reading a teenager's work of fanfiction. Did she not read Pride and Prejudice? The first chapter of James' book recounts the tale of the original so blatantly incorrectly, I thought it was a joke. Elizabeth Bennet was the exact opposite of mercenary in her choice of Darcy. And by this I mean, she was not after his money. The author of this piece of atrocity claims that Elizabeth had pursued him the entire time, and only fell in love with him in the end. She couldn't be more wrong, and anyone who'd bothered to read the original would know that. Elizabeth pursued Wickham, and believed the slander he directed at Darcy. In the 'sequel', P.D. James even frequently alludes to Elizabeth's folly in fancying Wickham several times, yet apparently this contradiction flies right over her head. What an ill-thought out book. To me the story seemed short, and contrived. It spent too much time babbling about some made up backstory which didn't seem to mesh well with the characters or the original story at all. It meandered on at length about descriptions of the weather, and the vapid thoughts of characters greatly abused by James' pen. Elizabeth Bennet, one of the most popular of Jane Austen's characters, was completely voiceless and self-effacing, and showed none of the verve and wit which made Pride and Prejudice so interesting! Much of the dialogue in James' novel is embarrassingly juvenile. It plays at writing in the style of the original, but falls shamefully short. The characters lack any sort of real emotion, or genuine reaction at the events that befall them, and their generic speech makes it hard to form any sort of mental image of what the characters are like or how they're acting at any given time. I could go on forever about how disappointing this piece of literary trash is, but I'm sure I'll hit the text limit. It's an embarrassment, and I think Austen would be offended by the notion of someone so ill-equipped to handle her characters making a mockery of her work. Better to read Pride and Prejudice over and stop at that. This isn't worth your time, and certainly not your money.
Date published: 2012-02-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing. Started of promising but went down hill from there on. More Gothic than Regency and very slow. The plot was feeble and left a lot to be desired . I like Austen and P D James but this just did not seem to work. Elizabeth does not appear much which was disappointing and the appearance of Mr Bennet had no bearing on the story at all so he could have been left out. All he did was sit in the library.
Date published: 2012-01-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Must read for Jane Austen fans It seems like forever ago that I read Pride and Prejudice and my memory of it was a little fuzzy. Thankfully P.D. James gives a nice little recap right at the start of this novel, which goes over the main events of the classic novel and catches you up to where Death Comes to Pemberley begins. I thought this was a nice touch, because I'm sure I'm not the only one who was intrigued by this book even though they hadn't read Pride & Prejudice in awhile. Now in terms of the actual story itself...it felt very, well, Victorian. The language had that slow moving, detailed air to it and you had to wade through a pile of social customs and mannerisms to get to the actual plot. I know a TON of people who love Victorian novels and would have no issue with the style of this book, but for me it just seemed to drag the book on. I like my mysteries to be fast paced and kind of gritty, so this really wasn't my kind of book and as a result I just couldn't get into the way I wanted to. I personally found Death Comes to Pemberley a little slow, with no major twists but but it did have some nice prose and an overall well put together narrative. I don't want to give this book a bad review, because I don't think it was a bad book. It just wasn't for me. If you're a fan of Pride and Prejudice, or of more “cozy” mysteries I think you're really going to enjoy it. If you're not a fan of Pride and Prejudice (or you're indifferent to it) this may not be the right choice for you. This and other reviews at Christa's Hooked on Books (http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com)
Date published: 2012-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 2 of my favourite authors rolled into one book! I am a great fan of P.D. James and was thrilled to received her latest novel for Christmas. Imagine my surprise and delight on reading the synopsis that it was a sequel to "Pride & Prejudice", one of my all-time favourites. P. D. James has kept true to the characters, language and period and created a delightful insight into the lives of the Darcy's. Only someone of Jame's calibre could accomplish this.
Date published: 2012-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from P.D. James steps into history. I have tried to read previous sequels to Pride and Prejudice and while some came close, they were all lacking in holding true to the original characters Jane Austen created. P.D. James, a renowned mystery writer, has picked up the thread and has not only been able to carry off most of the characters, she has also been able to write in a 19th century manner. The language is appropriate to the times. The only character that is a little off for me is Jane. Her speeches are rather long-winded for her and tends to talk like Lizzie rather than herself (as Austen wrote her). We also get an amazing look into the Britsh justice system of the 19th century. James has done her research and presents the case as I expect it would have happened. I am a fan of P.D. James and have read most of her novels. This is a departure for her; to pick up another author's work and to spring off into a sequel story of murder but she has done it well, as she usually does. It was nice to touch base with Lizzie and Mr. Darcy again.
Date published: 2011-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining combo of P&P and murder! I enjoyed this story. It was a definite departure from other "sequels" or "homages" to Pride and Prejudice I have read in the past, but I found it engaging and entertaining new twist on characters I am terribly fond of and proprietary about. Several years after the marriages of both Jane and Elizabeth Bennet to their respective princes charming - Bingley and Darcy, for those who haven't read P&P [and just by the by - Good Heavens! Go read it immediately!] both sisters are happily enjoying married life and motherhood in close proximity to one another to their mutual joy. On the eve of the Pemberley annual ball, tragedy strikes. A murder takes place in the Pemberley woods, with the perennial bad-penny, George Wickham, once again causing grief for the Darcys by being the chief suspect in the murder of his supposed dear friend, Captain Denny. Although Darcy is one of the local magistrates, he can clearly not be involved in this investigation, due to his personal history with Wickham, as well as the crime happening on Darcy's property. Another magistrate arrives and takes over the investigation. This leaves both Darcy and Elizabeth with mixed feelings. While there is no love lost by the Darcys for either Wickham or his feckless wife Lydia [Elizabeth's youngest and most ill-mannered sister] they cannot wish the gallows for Wickham, particularly as they doubt he is the guilty party. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I have not read any of the other murder mysteries written by this author. Instead it was the P&P connection which tempted me to pick this book up. I am always tempted by any continuation of the story of characters who are dear to my heart, as Elizabeth Bennet et al very much are. I enjoy murder mysteries, and this was a cleverly conceived story which I believe would challenge those who like to try to figure out who the killer was and why. For me, there was an added benefit in the story being woven around the P&P characters. I felt the author did a very good job of honouring the character and likely behaviour of characters who are well-known and beloved by many people. I didn't feel any of the characters were made to say or do things they would not have done, and the mystery was very smoothly woven into the people, places and events of the Pride & Prejudice structure to make for a nice combination of components which added up to a good read. If you are a P&P fan, and enjoy books that continue and expand upon Lizzie & Darcy's story, I would recommend this as a good read. While Jane Austen would not have likely written her characters into a murder investigation, P.D. James' conception of what would happen when these characters were caught up in one is plausible, and a solid, entertaining story.
Date published: 2011-12-25

– More About This Product –

Death Comes To Pemberley

by P.d. James

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 9.53 × 6.4 × 1.07 in

Published: December 6, 2011

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307362035

ISBN - 13: 9780307362032

Read from the Book

AUTHOR''S NOTE 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 fi nal 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 this story herself, and done it better. P. D. James, 2011 PROLOGUE The Bennets of Longbourn 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 fi ve 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, Netherfi eld Park, although impressive, is not mentioned in books about the county’s notable architecture. The town has an assembly room where dances are regularly held but no theatre, and the chief entertainment takes place in private houses where the boredom of dinner parties and whist tables, always with the same company, is relieved by gossip. A family of five unmarried daughters is sure of attracting the sympathetic concern of all their neighbours, p
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From the Publisher

In a marvellous, thrilling re-creation of the world of Pride and Prejudice, P.D. James fuses her lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen with her own great talent for writing crime fiction.

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome, healthy sons in the Pemberley nursery, Elizabeth''s beloved sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live within seventeen miles, the ordered and secure life of Pemberley seems unassailable, and Elizabeth''s happiness in her marriage is complete. But their peace is threatened and old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled on the eve of the annual autumn ball. The Darcys and their guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley''s wild woodland, and as it pulls up, Lydia Wickham, an uninvited guest, tumbles out, screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Death Comes to Pemberley is a powerful work of fiction, as rich in its compelling story, in its evocation of place, and its gripping psychological and emotional insight, as the very best of P. D. James. She brings us back masterfully and with delight to much-loved characters, illuminating the happy but threatened marriage of the Darcys with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted mystery.

About the Author

P. D. JAMES was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of the Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council, and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She is an Honorary Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature (US). She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983, and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors. She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Editorial Reviews

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LONGLIST 2013 – IMPAC Dublin Literary Award


“A sparkling curio that will appeal to both Janeites and Jamesites.”
—Daily Telegraph
 
“Jane Austen herself would have applauded.”
—The Spectator
 
“A great joint achievement, and a joyous read.”
—The Independent
 
“Death Comes to Pemberley is as good as anything P. D. James has written and that is very high praise indeed.”
—Sunday Express
 
“A delight. It reads happily and, as ever in P. D. James’s novels, the settings are beautifully and thoroughly imagined, the descriptions and exact. I can’t think that it could be better done.”
—The Scotsman
 
“Brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James’s imagination.”
—The Sunday Times
 
“Of all the other pens to take up where Austen left off, P. D. James’s is head and shoulders above the rest.”
—Evening Standard