The year, thus far, as been a tad bit crazy. Far too much work, in far too little time. So, I set out to find a book that I could read in brief, stolen moments–one that would be entertaining, and take me away for a bit. I came away with Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.
In case you’re wondering, yes, that Pemberley.
The novel takes place in October, 1803–six years after the close of Pride and Prejudice. As you might imagine, Elizabeth and Darcy have built a happy marriage at Pemberley; Jane and Bingley live nearby. All is well . . . until the eve of the autumn ball when Lydia Wickham shows up all a dither, exclaiming (shrilly, no doubt) that Wickham has been murdered. And so the intrigue begins.
First of all, let me just say: I tend to be against books that copy the storyline/characters of another. I opted to read this one because 1) desperate times call for desperate measures; and 2) it was P.D. James. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.
It’s evident from the start that this work is a pastiche of Austen’s. In other words, it doesn’t mock its predecessor–it doesn’t claim the inspiration as its own. Rather, it offers respect where respect is due. Before the Prologue ever begins, James pays tribute to Jane Austen. She continues by setting the stage, summarizing the goings on that occur within the pages of Pride and Prejudice. And she continues with a writing style that echoes Austen.
So, if you’ve not yet read Death Comes to Pemberley–if you’re a fan of period pieces and you love a good, light mystery (i.e. not grisly)–I recommend you give it a try.