Monday, 25 May 2015

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley (2011) (Faber & Faber)
P.D. James
Grade: B-
Genre: crime / historical fiction / Austen-inspired
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A crime novel 

Six years have passed since we left Pride and Prejudice and all is well: Elizabeth has transitioned into her role as the new mistress of Pemberley perfectly and she and Darcy dote on their two young sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. She’s revived the annual Lady Anne’s ball, traditionally held to celebrate the birthday of Darcy’s mother, but which had been dormant since her death. Preparations are well into the final touches on the eve of the ball in 1803, when death comes suddenly and shockingly to Pemberley … It is Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth’s younger, unreliable sister who brings the news in her usual state of hysteria, believing that her husband, George Wickham, is dead. And so follows an investigation that threatens to rock the Darcy family to its core …

I was first introduced to PD James’ world of Death Comes to Pemberley through the 3-part BBC adaptation that graced the country’s screens during Christmas of 2013. It was gripping and well-written and everything that Jane Austen would be if murder ever did come to Pemberley. Of course there was a book behind it, and it was only a year later that I picked up the novel to explore how close the adaptation truly was.

Like I mentioned in my review of Shannon Hale’s Austenland, I’ve never been a fan of Austen-inspired novels. I can see why they still appeal to generations of readers today, but I’ve never personally seen their appeal. That doesn’t stop me, however, from watching whatever television or film adaptation happens to be shown on television. When I saw the television adaptation of DCtP, I was intrigued enough by the world that had been created to seek out the book. I was glad that I did: the screenplay is wonderfully true to the book and PD James creates a world worthy of taking a place in the highest ranks of Austen-derivative literature with complex characters (how adorable are Georgiana and Henry Alveston?) and a well fleshed-out plot. I’ve watched parts of the TV-adaptation multiple times now and it’s still as enjoyable as the first time – though DCtP isn’t my usual reading material, I think I could definitely see myself reading it again and again.

Image courtesy of Book Depository.

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