Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. JamesDeath Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley

byP. D. James

Paperback | May 1, 2012

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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.
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 Roya...
Title:Death Comes to PemberleyFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:304 pages, 7.99 × 5.36 × 0.82 inShipping dimensions:7.99 × 5.36 × 0.82 inPublished:May 1, 2012Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307362043

ISBN - 13:9780307362049


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wish there was more mystery I wish there was more of a mystery within the story, but it's still a nice read that evokes Jane Austen and all the great classics.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointing It started promising but really went down hill from there on. It was lacking suspense and an actual plot line, I was really disappointed. I would never recommend this book.
Date published: 2017-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Death Comes to Pemberley Loved it! P.D. James really brought the characters back to life. Loved how if you had forgotten the characters in "Pride and Prejudice", she reminded us of their character.
Date published: 2015-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous continuance I absolutely loved picking up the Lizzy and Darcy story without feeling like I've missed a beat. P.D. James has created a story that maintains the integrity of the characters created by Jane Austen, and yet creating a new vibrancy and adventure. I loved this book and could only wish there was a series to follow. However sometimes stand alone sequels are the best.
Date published: 2015-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! A superb story filled with beautifully crafted sentences. Love her style and characters. This was my first P.D. James novel and certainly not my last...
Date published: 2015-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING! This book was well written, easy to read and continued a classic novel with uniqueness. I loved it and reccomend this read to any Jane Austen fan
Date published: 2015-04-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not bad Came on masterpiece theatre, so I can stop reading it now.
Date published: 2014-11-07
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 4 out of 5 by from Not bad If you like Jane Austen, you will love this book. Written in the style of Jane Austen this is a fun novel. Definitely worth the read.
Date published: 2014-02-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disapointing I usually enjoy P.D. James' books and I love anything that has to do with Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, however, I found this book disapointing both as a fan of mystery novels and as a fan of Jane Austen's work. The blending of both genres has been done much better by Carrie Bebris.
Date published: 2013-07-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Death Comes to Pemberly Its a good read :-)
Date published: 2013-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Death comes to Pemberly Excellent story, lots of twists and turns. Good references to other Austen characters, making the story stronger and more complete. Surprising conclusion I couldn't stop reading.
Date published: 2013-05-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Death comes to Pemberley Slow getting into the plot. Not my type of book as the action drags and I often lost interest. However, it was an interesting journey into 18th century England. Not a time in which I would chose to live.
Date published: 2013-03-04
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 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 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 (
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

Read from the Book

AUTHOR'S NOTEI 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, 2011PROLOGUEThe Bennets of LongbournIt 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, particularly where other diversions are few, and the situation of the Bennets was especially unfortunate. In the absence of a male heir, Mr. Bennet’s estate was entailed on his nephew, the Reverend William Collins, who, as Mrs. Bennet was fond of loudly lamenting, could turn her and her daughters out of the house before her husband was cold in his grave. Admittedly, Mr. Collins had attempted to make such redress as lay in his power. At some inconvenience to himself, but with the approval of his formidable patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh, he had left his parish at Hunsford in Kent to visit the Bennets with the charitable intention of selecting a bride from the fi ve daughters. This intention was received by Mrs. Bennet with enthusiastic approval but she warned him that Miss Bennet, the eldest, was likely to be shortly engaged. His choice of Elizabeth, the second in seniority and beauty, had met with a resolute rejection and he had been obliged to seek a more sympathetic response to his pleading from Elizabeth’s friend Miss Charlotte Lucas. Miss Lucas had accepted his proposal with gratifying alacrity and the future which Mrs. Bennet and her daughters could expect was settled, not altogether to the general regret of their neighbours. On Mr. Bennet’s death, Mr. Collins would install them in one of the larger cottages on the estate where they would receive spiritual comfort from his administrations and bodily sustenance from the leftovers from Mrs. Collins’s kitchen augmented by the occasional gift of game or a side of bacon.But from these benefi ts the Bennet family had a fortunate escape. By the end of 1799 Mrs. Bennet could congratulate herself on being the mother of four married daughters. Admittedly the marriage of Lydia, the youngest, aged only sixteen, was not propitious. She had eloped with Lieutenant George Wickham, an offi cer in the militia which had been stationed at Meryton, an escapade which was confidently expected to end, as all such adventures deserve, in her desertion by Wickham, banishment from her home, rejection from society and the fi nal degradation which decency forbade the ladies to mention. The marriage had, however, taken place, the first news being brought by a neighbour, William Goulding, when he rode past the Longbourn coach and the newly married Mrs. Wickham placed her hand on the open window so that he could see the ring. Mrs. Bennet’s sister, Mrs. Philips, was assiduous in circulating her version of the elopement, that the couple had been on their way to Gretna Green but had made a short stop in London to enable Wickham to inform a godmother of his forthcoming nuptials, and, on the arrival of Mr. Bennet in search of his daughter, the couple had accepted the family’s suggestion that the intended marriage could more conveniently take place in London. No one believed this fabrication, but it was acknowledged that Mrs. Philips’s ingenuity in devising it deserved at least a show of credulity. George Wickham, of course, could never be accepted in Meryton again to rob the female servants of their virtue and the shopkeepers of their profit, but it was agreed that, should his wife come among them, Mrs. Wickham should be afforded the tolerant forbearance previously accorded to Miss Lydia Bennet.There was much speculation about how the belated marriage had been achieved. Mr. Bennet’s estate was hardly worth two thousand pounds a year, and it was commonly felt that Mr. Wickham would have held out for at least fi ve hundred and all his Meryton and other bills being paid before consenting to the marriage. Mrs. Bennet’s brother, Mr. Gardiner, must have come up with the money. He was known to be a warm man, but he had a family and no doubt would expect repayment from Mr. Bennet. There was considerable anxiety in Lucas Lodge that their son- in- law’s inheritance might be much diminished by this necessity, but when no trees were felled, no land sold, no servants put off and the butcher showed no disinclination to provide Mrs. Bennet with her customary weekly order, it was assumed that Mr. Collins and dear Charlotte had nothing to fear and that, as soon as Mr. Bennet was decently buried, Mr. Collins could take possession of the Longbourn estate with every confidence that it had remained intact.But the engagement which followed shortly after Lydia’s marriage, that of Miss Bennet and Mr. Bingley of Netherfi eld Park, was received with approbation. It was hardly unexpected; Mr. Bingley’s admiration for Jane had been apparent from their fi rst meeting at an assembly ball. Miss Bennet’s beauty, gentleness and the naive optimism about human nature which inclined her never to speak ill of anyone made her a general favourite. But within days of the engagement of her eldest to Mr. Bingley being announced, an even greater triumph for Mrs. Bennet was noised abroad and was at first received with incredulity. Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the second daughter, was to marry Mr. Darcy, the owner of Pemberley, one of the greatest houses in Derbyshire and, it was rumoured, with an income of ten thousand pounds a year.It was common knowledge in Meryton that Miss Lizzy hated Mr. Darcy, an emotion in general held by those ladies and gentlemen who had attended the first assembly ball at which Mr. Darcy had been present with Mr. Bingley and his two sisters, and at which he had given adequate evidence of his pride and arrogant disdain of the company, making it clear, despite the prompting of his friendMr. Bingley, that no woman present was worthy to be his partner. Indeed, when Sir William Lucas had introduced Elizabeth to him,Mr. Darcy had declined to dance with her, later telling Mr. Bingley that she was not pretty enough to tempt him. It was taken for granted that no woman could be happy as Mrs. Darcy for, as Maria Lucas pointed out, “Who would want to have that disagreeable face opposite you at the breakfast table for the rest of your life?”But there was no cause to blame Miss Elizabeth Bennet for taking a more prudent and optimistic view. One cannot have everything in life and any young lady in Meryton would have endured more than a disagreeable face at the breakfast table to marry ten thousand a year and to be mistress of Pemberley. The ladies of Meryton, as in duty bound, were happy to sympathise with the afflicted and to congratulate the fortunate but there should be moderation in all things, and Miss Elizabeth’s triumph was on much too grand a scale. Although they conceded that she was pretty enough and had fine eyes, she had nothing else to recommend her to a man with ten thousand a year and it was not long before a coterie of the most influential gossips concocted an explanation: Miss Lizzy had been determined to capture Mr. Darcy from the moment of their first meeting. And when the extent of her strategy had become apparent it was agreed that she had played her cards skilfully from the very beginning. Although Mr. Darcy had declined to dance with her at the assembly ball, his eyes had been frequently on her and her friend Charlotte who, after years of husband-seeking, was extremely adroit at identifying any sign of a possible attachment, and had warned Elizabeth against allowing her obvious partiality for the attractive and popular Lieutenant George Wickham to cause her to offend a man of ten times his consequence.And then there was the incident of Miss Bennet’s dinner engagement at Netherfield when, due to her mother’s insistence on her riding rather than taking the family coach, Jane had caught a very convenient cold and, as Mrs. Bennet had planned, was forced to stay for several nights at Netherfi eld. Elizabeth, of course, had set out on foot to visit her, and Miss Bingley’s good manners had impelled her to offer hospitality to the unwelcome visitor until Miss Bennet recovered. Nearly a week spent in the company of Mr. Darcy must have enhanced Elizabeth’s hopes of success and she would have made the best of this enforced intimacy.Subsequently, at the urging of the youngest Bennet girls, Mr. Bingley had himself held a ball at Netherfi eld, and on this occasion Mr. Darcy had indeed danced with Elizabeth. The chaperones, ranged in their chairs against the wall, had raised their lorgnettes and, like the rest of the company, studied the pair carefully as they made their way down the line. Certainly there had been little conversation between them but the very fact that Mr. Darcy had actually asked Miss Elizabeth to dance and had not been refused was a matter for interest and speculation.The next stage in Elizabeth’s campaign was her visit, with Sir William Lucas and his daughter Maria, to Mr. and Mrs. Collins at Hunsford Parsonage. Normally this was surely an invitation which Miss Lizzy should have refused. What possible pleasure could any rational woman take in six weeks of Mr. Collins’s company? It was generally known that, before his acceptance by Miss Lucas, Miss Lizzy had been his fi rst choice of bride. Delicacy, apart from any other consideration, should have kept her away from Hunsford. But she had, of course, been aware that Lady Catherine de Bourgh was Mr. Collins’s neighbour and patroness, and that her nephew, Mr. Darcy, would almost certainly be at Rosings while the visitors were at the parsonage. Charlotte, who kept her mother informed of every detail of her married life, including the health of her cows, poultry and husband, had written subsequently to say that Mr. Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who was also visiting Rosings, had called at the parsonage frequently during Elizabeth’s stay and that Mr. Darcy on one occasion had visited without his cousin when Elizabeth had been on her own. Mrs. Collins was certain that this distinction must confirm that he was falling in love and wrote that, in her opinion, her friend would have taken either gentleman with alacrity had an offer been made; Miss Lizzy had however returned home with nothing settled.But at last all had come right when Mrs. Gardiner and her husband, who was Mrs. Bennet’s brother, had invited Elizabeth to accompany them on a summer tour of pleasure. It was to have been as far as the Lakes, but Mr. Gardiner’s business responsibilities had apparently dictated a more limited scheme and they would go no further north than Derbyshire. It was Kitty, the fourth Bennet daughter, who had conveyed this news, but no one in Meryton believed the excuse. A wealthy family who could afford to travel from London to Derbyshire could clearly extend the tour to the Lakes had they wished. It was obvious that Mrs. Gardiner, a partnerin her favourite niece’s matrimonial scheme, had chosen Derbyshire because Mr. Darcy would be at Pemberley, and indeed the Gardiners and Elizabeth, who had no doubt enquired at the inn when the master of Pemberley would be at home, were actually visiting the house when Mr. Darcy returned. Naturally, as a matter of courtesy, the Gardiners were introduced and the party invited to dine at Pemberley, and if Miss Elizabeth had entertained any doubts about the wisdom of her scheme to secure Mr. Darcy, the first sight of Pemberley had confirmed her determination to fall in love with him at the first convenient moment. Subsequently he and his friend Mr. Bingley had returned to Netherfi eld Park and had lost no time in calling at Longbourn where the happiness of Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth was finally and triumphantly secured. The engagement, despite its brilliance, gave less pleasure than had Jane’s. Elizabeth had never been popular, indeed the more perceptive of the Meryton ladies occasionally suspected that Miss Lizzy was privately laughing at them. They also accused her of being sardonic, and although there was uncertainty about the meaning of the word, they knew that it was not a desirable quality in a woman, being one which gentlemen particularly disliked. Neighbours whose jealousy of such a triumph exceeded any satisfaction in the prospect of the union were able to console themselves by averring that Mr. Darcy’s pride and arrogance and his wife’s caustic wit would ensure that they lived together in the utmost misery for which even Pemberley and ten thousand a year could offer no consolation.Allowing for such formalities without which grand nuptials could hardly be valid, the taking of likenesses, the busyness of lawyers, the buying of new carriages and wedding clothes, the marriage of Miss Bennet to Mr. Bingley and Miss Elizabeth to Mr. Darcy took place on the same day at Longbourn church with surprisingly little delay. It would have been the happiest day of Mrs. Bennet’s life had she not been seized with palpitations during the service, brought on by fear that Mr. Darcy’s formidable aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, might appear in the church door to forbid the marriage, and it was not until after the final blessing that she could feel secure in her triumph.It is doubtful whether Mrs. Bennet missed the company of her second daughter, but her husband certainly did. Elizabeth hadalways been his favourite child. She had inherited his intelligence, something of his sharp wit, and his pleasure in the foibles and inconsistencies of their neighbours, and Longbourn House was a lonelier and less rational place without her company. Mr. Bennet was a clever and reading man whose library was both a refuge and the source of his happiest hours. He and Darcy rapidly came to the conclusion that they liked each other and thereafter, as is common with friends, accepted their different quirks of character as evidence of the other’s superior intellect. Mr. Bennet’s visits to Pemberley, frequently made when he was least expected, were chiefly spent in the library, one of the fi nest in private hands, from which it was difficult to extract him, even for meals. He visited the Bingleys at Highmarten less frequently since, apart from Jane’s excessive preoccupation with the comfort and well- being of her husband and children, which occasionally Mr. Bennet found irksome, there were few new books and periodicals to tempt him. Mr. Bingley’s money had originally come from trade. He had inherited no family library and had only thought of setting one up after his purchase of Highmarten House. In this project both Darcy and Mr. Bennet were very ready to assist. There are few activities so agreeable as spending a friend’s money to your own satisfaction and his benefit, and if the buyers were periodically tempted to extravagance, they comforted themselves with the thought that Bingley could afford it. Although the library shelves, designed to Darcy’s specification and approved by Mr. Bennet, were as yet by no means full, Bingley was able to take pride in the elegant arrangement of the volumes and the gleaming leather of the bindings, and occasionally even opened a book and was seen reading it when the season or the weather was unpropitious for hunting, fishing or shooting.Mrs. Bennet had only accompanied her husband to Pemberley on two occasions. She had been received by Mr. Darcy with kindness and forbearance but was too much in awe of her son by marriage to wish to repeat the experience. Indeed, Elizabeth suspected that her mother had greater pleasure in regaling her neighbours with the wonders of Pemberley, the size and beauty of the gardens, the grandeur of the house, the number of servants and the splendour of the dining table than she had in experiencing them. Neither Mr. Bennet nor his wife were frequent visitors of their grandchildren. Five daughters born in quick succession had left them with a lively memory of broken nights, screaming babies, a head nurse who complained constantly, and recalcitrant nursery maids. A preliminary inspection shortly after the birth of each grandchild confirmed the parents’ assertion that the child was remarkably handsome and already exhibiting a formidable intelligence, after which they were content to receive regular progress reports.Mrs. Bennet, greatly to her two elder daughters’ discomfort, had loudly proclaimed at the Netherfield ball that she expected Jane’smarriage to Mr. Bingley to throw her younger daughters in the way of other wealthy men, and to general surprise it was Mary who dutifully fulfilled this very natural maternal prophecy. No one expected Mary to marry. She was a compulsive reader but without discrimination or understanding, an assiduous practiser at the pianoforte but devoid of talent, and a frequent deliverer of platitudes which had neither wisdom nor wit. Certainly she never displayed any interest in the male sex. An assembly ball was a penance to be endured only because it offered an opportunity for her to take centre stage at the pianoforte and, by the judicious use of the sustaining pedal, to stun the audience into submission. But within two years of Jane’s marriage, Mary was the wife of the Reverend Theodore Hopkins, the rector of the parish adjacent to Highmarten.The Highmarten vicar had been indisposed and Mr. Hopkins had for three Sundays taken the services. He was a thin, melancholybachelor, aged thirty-five, given to preaching sermons of inordinate length and complicated theology, and had therefore naturally acquired the reputation of being a very clever man, and although he could hardly be described as rich, he enjoyed a more than adequate private income in addition to his stipend. Mary, a guest at Highmarten on one of the Sundays on which he preached, was introduced to him by Jane at the church door after the service and immediately impressed him by her compliments on his discourse, her endorsement of the interpretation he had taken of the text, and such frequent references to the relevance of Fordyce’s sermons that Jane, anxious for her husband and herself to get away to their Sunday luncheon of cold meats and salad, invited him to dinner on the following day. Further invitations followed and within three months Mary became Mrs. Theodore Hopkins with as little public interest in the marriage as there had been display at the ceremony.One advantage to the parish was that the food at the vicarage notably improved. Mrs. Bennet had brought up her daughters to appreciate the importance of a good table in promoting domestic harmony and attracting male guests. Congregations hoped that the vicar’s wish to return promptly to conjugal felicity might shorten the services, but although his girth increased, the length of his sermons remained the same. The two settled down in perfect accord, except initially for Mary’s demand that she should have a book room of her own in which she could read in peace. This was acquired by converting the one good spare bedroom for her sole use, with the advantage of promoting domestic amity while making it impossible for them to invite their relations to stay.By the autumn of 1803, in which year Mrs. Bingley and Mrs. Darcy were celebrating six years of happy marriage, Mrs. Bennet had only one daughter, Kitty, for whom no husband had been found. Neither Mrs. Bennet nor Kitty was much concerned at thematrimonial failure. Kitty enjoyed the prestige and indulgence of being the only daughter at home, and with her regular visits to Jane, where she was a great favourite with the children, was enjoying a life that had never before been so satisfactory. The visits of Wickham and Lydia were hardly an advertisement for matrimony. They would arrive in boisterous good humour to be welcomed effusively by Mrs. Bennet, who always rejoiced to see her favourite daughter. But this initial goodwill soon degenerated into quarrels, recriminations and peevish complaints on the part of the visitors about their poverty and the stinginess of Elizabeth’s and Jane’s fi nancial support, so that Mrs. Bennet was as glad to see them leave as she was to welcome them back on their next visit. But she needed a daughter at home and Kitty, much improved in amiability and usefulness since Lydia’s departure, did very well. By 1803, therefore, Mrs. Bennet could be regarded as a happy woman so far as her nature allowed and had even been known to sit through a four-course dinner in the presence of Sir William and Lady Lucas without once referring to the iniquity of the entail.

Editorial Reviews

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLERLONGLIST 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