Death Comes to Pemberley
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Death Comes to Pemberley

3.07 of 5 stars 3.07  ·  rating details  ·  46,054 ratings  ·  6,856 reviews
A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.

It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate.Their peaceful, orderly world se...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 1990)
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Damon Suede
A hideous, plodding, ungraceful piece of mawkish fanfiction that succeeds neither as a mystery or as a pastiche of Austen's most beloved novel. Oy.

Almost from page one, there are embarassing lapses of craft and tone. None of the economy or vibrance of Austen appears in these pages and the so-called plot is built around a "mystery" that was so hamhanded that I'd sussed the perpetrator within the first 50 pages. But that's not the worst of it. Some of the greatest characters in world literature re...more
Kim
Oh dear. What were PD James, her agent and her publisher thinking? And more to the point, what was I thinking, deciding to actually spend money on this book?

All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. I am in what I presume to be the target demographic for this novel: female, passionate about Jane Austen's novels, a long-time reader of crime fiction and a fan of PD James to boot. Indeed, if James' name had not been on the cover, this is a book I would not have contemplated rea...more
Julie
I considered mounting a passionate defense in favor of this lovingly-rendered tribute to Jane Austen, but then I decided I couldn't care less what the naysayers think. If you pick up this gentle whodunit expecting the sartorial sleuthing of Commander Adam Dalgliesh, you will be disappointed. If you read this looking for the ghost of Jane Austen, you will catch but a glimpse of her delicate frame. Although the point of fan-fiction escapes me entirely (I can't help but think of tribute bands; I ha...more
Richard
There were good and bad things about this book. It gave more nuanced portraits of some of the characters, notably Darcy but also some minor characters. It invites the reader to think a little differently about Jane Austen's classic novel.

However, the use of Austen's source material, though meant as an affectionate tribute, is wooden, often heavy-handed and often overdone. Some characters are dealt with unsatisfactorily. Mary ends up in a situation which for her is suitable (in fact I had though...more
Gary the Bookworm
This is perhaps the worst of all the Pride and Prejudice sequels and prequels. Over the years I've read some outlandish stuff-Elizabeth and Darcy enjoying a quickie in the morning room, an insane woman haunting Pemberley and making Darcy unfit for Miss Eliza-and other such rubbish. But nowhere else did they seem so dull and lifeless, so devoid of charm and spark. Be forewarned, the death referred to in the title is really that of Elizabeth Bennett which is simply unforgivable.
Alun Williams
I expect I am not alone in having bought this book because I was attracted by the idea of a murder mystery set in Pemberley. I'd fondly imagined that Elizabeth Darcy (née Bennett) would be a witty and perceptive detective, and that P. D. James would successfully channel Jane Austen's muse. I was to be disappointed on both counts. The plot is dull but complex, the writing is mostly dull (and no more than occasionally a pale shadow of Jane Austen's) , worst of all, Elizabeth herself is dull and pa...more
Jane
Where I got the book: my local library. Unable to finish for the reasons cited below: made it to page 80.

It hurts to write this review. I LOVE PD James. Her subtlety, her edginess, the sheer intelligence of her prose, the nuances of her characters...I could go on. And NONE of this is to be found within the pages of Death Comes to Pemberley. I'm sure I wasn't the only fan to get all excited about the idea of PD James doing Pride and Prejudice; what insights, what delicate twists of humor, what li...more
Wealhtheow
Jun 08, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who neither understand the past nor care about Pride and Prejudice or mysteries.
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Richard
Shelves: historical, regency
Some years after Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Wickham (nee Bennet) stumbles through the front door of Pemberley in hysterics. There were gunshots in the woods, and she's sure her husband has been murdered. Darcy and some of the other men go out in search, and find (view spoiler) Darcy summons the magistrate and then spends the entire rest of the novel thinking anachronis...more
Kristen
Heard about this book on NPR today. Sounds like a great read--Jane Austen and a murder mystery all wrapped up in one!

Ok, now it's several months later and I've had the opportunity to read the book. It was tolerable, I suppose, for a read at the beach. But I admit it failed to live up to the expectations of an Austen novel or a good murder mystery. As for striving to achieve the heights of Austen, I feel James spent too much time apologizing for the actions of the characters in P&P. I think w...more
Deborah Hale
When I won an advance copy of this book on Goodreads I was thrilled. Perhaps I approached the story with expectations too high. I wanted so much to like it, but the more I read the more disappointed I became. The prose is very well-written and somewhat in the Austen manner, but without the subtle wit.

What I found tiresome was the story-telling. The first word of dialogue is not spoken for many, many pages and much of the dialogue is actually a series of lengthy monologues that sound more like n...more
Liz Nutting
I'm really torn about this book. One of my favorite mystery writers meets one of my favorite stories; it's gotta be good, right? And it is good. But it's not great, and I was hoping for great.

I shy away from a lot of the Pride and Prejudice follow ons--fan fiction legitimized by a publisher, and sometimes not nearly as good as amateur fan fiction. But this I was eager to read. And I will say, it held my interest. James does a good job of capturing the spirit and even language of Austen, not per...more
Jodie Anderson
Authors 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 final chapter of Mansfield Park Miss Austen made
her views quite plain; 'Let other pens dwell on the 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, had...more
Anmiryam
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good writer attempting to emulate a great writer will invariably fail. Even if that good writer is considered to be the doyenne of her genre, readers seeking the focused wit and social observation of the original creator will close her book frustrated, especially if many reviewers extoll the sequel's virtues as entertainment and fitting homage.

A few brief passages sparkle with the reflected brilliance of Austen and most of them have been extensively...more
Laurie
Oh Lord, as Lydia might say. Where to begin? A big deal was made about this in Austenland because an "established author" was writing a P&P sequel. Perhaps that is something that should never be repeated because this was horrifying. Here is why:

1.) Protracted portions of the novel are spent summarizing what happened in P&P. I seriously can't imagine that any but a tiny fraction of the realistic audience for this book isn't familiar enough with the story for this to be unnecessary. Plus i...more
Sherwood Smith
I hate to mark it 'read' as I did not finish it.

I found it painful to read--so many errors in period, errors in tone, errors in characterization, humorless and altogether so disappointing I wish I had not spent money on it.
Laurel
I consider it more than a bit perplexing when an author begins their book with an apology. In this case, it is to author Jane Austen for using her characters. Since Death Comes to Pemberley is a sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, it is like apologizing for snow being cold. If you are going to write a sequel to a classic of world literature, it is, what it is. Don’t apologize for it. It really puts me off my reading game from the get go.

Okay, I got that off my chest, so now on to more pleasa...more
·Karen·
This book seems to be about as divisive as abortion with some reviewers seeing it as a crime against humanity and others defending a woman's right to choose - in this case, a 90 year old's right to choose to have a blast with one of her favourite writers.
Two stars might seem to put me firmly in the pro-life camp, but two stars is OK. It was OK. I expected a refreshing swill round the mouth, a palate-cleanser for between the heavy tomes. What I got was leaden in places; the glaringly obvious devi...more
Verena
A murder mystery by P.D. James that takes place at Jane Austen’s Pemberley is a reading experience not to be missed if you are a fan of these authors. It is clear that James (who claims a lifelong passion for Austen) had great fun playing with the characters from Pride and Prejudice. She even refers to a few choice characters from Austen’s Persuasion in this novel that takes place six years after the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy. Great literature this is not, and James’ imitation of Austen’s...more
Shannon Knight
This book was absolutely delightful. Perhaps not to an Austen purist, of course. But as a PD James fan and an Austen fan, this was a fantastic read.
Mandy
Apr 11, 2012 Mandy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: insomniacs, people who don't really like themselves
I have never had any interest in the Jane Austen spin-off industry. Never understood why all those writers couldn’t come up with their own damn characters and leave Austen’s beloved creations alone. But when PD James jumped on the bandwagon, I thought, well, okay, there’s a proven good writer and I buckled. Too bad. Now I know that PD James possesses neither wit nor humor. Not that I ever would have condemned her for lacking such traits. I always held her in high esteem--Devices and Desires is o...more
Jamie
I was encouraged by the entertaining prologue. A recap of the P&P plot was only to be expected, and it was amusing to hear it from the point of view of Meryton society gossips, who suspect Elizabeth was maneuvering to catch Mr. Darcy from the first time she laid eyes on him. I thought the author was getting all of the rehashing out of the way so that she could tell her new story.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Throughout the novel, the characters remind themselves and each other of event...more
Jennifer
What the hell, P.D. James? She's an excellent writer, I cannot understand why she completely failed to capture any trace of the personalities of Darcy and Elizabeth. I've loved her books in the past, and this was really a big disappointment. The intro chapter is ridiculously long, really is there anybody who doesn't know the story of Pride & Prejudice who is going to be reading this book? And if there was, she could have worked all that info in in a more interesting fashion instead of the tr...more
Jeannette
This book failed in several ways. First, as a story, it was very poorly constructed. There are several instances of long, expository monologues used to introduce characters to the reader. They take the form of “Tell me again how you met….” or “You remember….” The backstory of Pride and Prejudice is given in a similar way, and it made for very boring reading. Typically these characters were not even essential to the story, and never appeared again. In addition, the details of the murder mystery w...more
Kwoomac
I'm not sure why P.D. James, a very talented writer of mysteries decided to take on Pride and Prejudice. I can understand (if not forgive) a lesser writer for trying to ride on Jane Austen's coat tails. Perhaps she was in a playful mood. Maybe she said, "Hey I'm 92, I can do whatever I want." Because of her expertise in writing intelligent mysteries, I definitely held her to a higher standard. I didn't think the whole thing worked. Sure, I was happy to be reunited with Elizabeth and Darcy 6 year...more
Angie
It is a truth universally acknowledged that imitations may be the sincerest form of flattery but they rarely live up to the originals. In the case of Death Comes to Pemberly, I suspect that Baroness James enjoyed writing this book consideralby more than I enjoyed reading it.
P D James is obviously an Austen fan, and she works very hard to re-create the atmosphere and the style that Austen lovers revere. However, this is supposed to be a mystery, and the leisurely style and florid prose of the ear...more
Kristen
To be fair, I knew better. When I bought this book, I said to the person with me, "I probably shouldn't buy this. It's probably not going to be any good." So, while I'm not exactly surprised that this book wasn't good, I am a bit surprised by how bad it was. I mean, P.D. James is respected and people speak highly of her books. I expected, at the very least, that the mystery would be interesting and complex. It is not. It's not actually a mystery. For one, it's fairly easy to guess at least appro...more
Chris
2.5, I think.

My likening and respect of Austen has grown as I have aged. As a pre-teen I wasn't a fan, but as an adult, I enjoy her. Persuasion is my favorite novel, not P&P.

P.D. James loves Austen, this much I know. James knows Austen's works and the criticism of the works.

This book is okay in the sense of workmanship. The Austen fan will like the little details - Elizabeth's analysis of her reason for marrying Darcy, the mention of the Elliots, and so on. The plot is realstic and fits in A...more
Felice
It is a truth universally acknowledged that fan fiction is a sad pastiche of greater writing. Is this still true when P.D. James is the fan? The short answer is a yes, but…

In her new crime novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, James creates a murder mystery for Darcy and Elizabeth to play Nick and Nora with. Darcy and Elizabeth have now been married for 6 years, they have an heir and a spare and are in general thriving. That is until sister Lydia shows up hysterical, a search has to be made for Wickh...more
Judith Starkston
P.D. James is one of the great mystery writers. Her books are psychologically dark and dense, humanely subtle and complex. Long before I started reviewing and writing books, she was the author I had to read each time she published a new book.

Her latest takes a decidedly different direction. Instead of contemporary England, she has set this one at Pemberley estate in 1803, six years after Miss Elizabeth Bennet has married Darcy. That is, P.D. James takes the prose of Jane Austen as her setting....more
Sara
Death Comes to Pemberley...boring, boring, boring, very proper, expository death...

I've never read P.D. James who I understand is both an accomplished mystery writer and also about 900 years old. That was evident given the bizarre lapses in continuity throughout this very, very drawn out, excessively verbose, downright boring novel. At the opening of one chapter we are told that the winds have not yet blown the beautiful red and gold leaves off the trees and not one page later the winds have in...more
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Coffee Club with ...: Death Comes to Pemberley 07/24-08/25 7 4 Sep 18, 2014 07:02AM  
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Jane Austen and P.D. James mystery 44 358 Dec 28, 2013 09:01AM  
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P. D. James is the author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she...more
More about P.D. James...
The Children of Men Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh, #1) Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh, #4) The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesh, #14) The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh, #5)

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“If this were fiction, could even the most brilliant novelist contrive to make credible so short a period in which pride had been subdued and prejudice overcome?” 8 likes
“We have all sinned, Mr. Darcy, and we cannot look for mercy without showing it in our lives.” 5 likes
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