Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reflections: Death Comes to Pemberley

Sarah J. Zern opines on J.D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley:

"I am a huge fan of 18th and 19th Century British Literature.  Even though I prefer Dickens and Bronte to Jane Austen, I would still consider myself a fan of Austen’s collected works.  I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice as much as the next college-aged girl, so much so that I have tried a few spin-off novels revolving around its main characters. My most recent attempt to find a good spin-off of Pride and Prejudice was P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley.

This novel takes place a good 6 to 10 years after the end of Pride and Prejudice.  Elizabeth Darcy and her husband have a well-established life at their estate in Pemberley, with two little boys and a social life quite appropriate for people of their station.  All of this gets thrown into quite an upheaval when a man is murdered on the grounds of their home and Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth’s sister Lydia’s husband, is the main suspect.  If you have read Pride and Prejudice, you’ll understand that there is a very involved history with Wickham, Darcy, and Elizabeth, so you can imagine the repercussions this has for everyone. 

Enough of the synopsis.  Did I like this book?  Not as much as I wanted to.  I wanted there to be lots of scandal, lots of shocking revelations, and above all some truly mushy scenes between Elizabeth and Darcy.  I wanted more mystery and intrigue.  Instead I got the author’s thoughts on how Elizabeth and Darcy feel about Wickham—a liberty I wasn’t very comfortable with her taking!  I wanted more story and less character interpretation.  In my opinion it was up to Jane Austen to tell me the Wickham—Darcy—Elizabeth story, and up to P.D. James to take that story and run, not dwell on how these three still felt about each other 10 years later!

So, call me a purist or call me picky, but this was not the book I hoped to read!"

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