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Death Comes to Pemberley

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  83,830 ratings  ·  9,180 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 see
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Hardcover, 291 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published November 3rd 2011)
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3.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  83,830 ratings  ·  9,180 reviews


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Damon Suede
Dec 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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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
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Julie Christine
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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
1.5 stars, grudgingly rounded up. Well-known detective fiction writer P.D. James took on the Pride and Prejudice characters and setting in this murder mystery. It's 6 years after the end of P&P, and Darcy and Elizabeth are preparing to host their annual autumn ball. Wickham and Lydia--who are NOT invited--are nevertheless traveling to Pemberley. Because that's just the sort of thing they do. But something strange happens to them in the woods near Pemberley.

Lydia arrives at the Darcy home in
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Bionic Jean
I was really looking forward to reading this. I love Jane Austen - and I love P.D. James too (in different moods, naturally). Both are masters of their chosen types of fiction. But this book....

It started off intriguingly enough when Lydia (fifth and most reprobate Bennett daughter from "Pride and Prejudice") runs into Pemberley, where her elder sister now resides, screaming that her husband has been murdered. Not your average Jane Austen fare, but enough to make a modern reader sit up and take
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Alun Williams
Jan 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gary  the Bookworm
Dec 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sorry-i-started
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.
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
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Jane
Nov 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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Wealhtheow
Nov 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  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: regency, historical
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
Melindam
This book is the literary equivalent of a sleeping pill.

It is a P&P spin-off murder mystery and while it is obvious that the author took pains to research how a murder investigation was conducted in the Regency Era, it is even more -and for me painfully and annoyingly- obvious(YES, I DO TAKE THINGS AUSTEN VERY PERSONAL!) that she did not bother when it came to the representation of Jane Austen's P&P characters.
She just had NO CLUE which is rather unpardonable when you are a writer of mys
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Laurie
Jan 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery, austenesque
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
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Kristen
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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Amalia Gavea
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
When it comes to re-writings or new versions of classical novels and classical characters, I am the least open-minded person imaginable, especially when we are talking about Pride and Prejudice. However, I really enjoyed P.D.James' treatment of Elizabeth, Darcy and Georgiana, because it is clear that she respected Jane Austen's creations and tried to breathe new life unto them, presenting their lives after their marriage. I liked the descriptions of the trials that took place, having the chance ...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
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Liz Nutting
Dec 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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Anmiryam
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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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
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Shannon Knight
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
·Karen·
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brits, mttbr-2013
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
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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.
Mandy
Apr 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Rebecca McNutt
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A creative spin on historical crime fiction, this isn't my favourite of PD James' works but it still has an impressive style all its own.
Verena
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
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Sara
I love Pride and Prejudice and I like P.D. James in her own element, and what doesn’t work about this novel is the blending of the two. It is only fair to say that I seldom come across a situation where a second author tries to expand on the canon of a former one with success. I would pretty much ascribe to the theory that when the original author leaves his characters, their story is done, unless he decides to pick them up again. Meanwhile we are all at liberty to imagine their further adventur ...more
Jamie Collins
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
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Laura
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I was reading this, my rating kept bouncing back and forth between a three and a four star. I am letting my rating land on the four star because the ending wrapped up quite excitingly and it was all tied together with a happy ending that I really enjoyed. I feel as though this book deserves more appreciation and credit than what many reviews on GR express. I will admit, the middle of the book did get repetitive and dragged on for a while, but it didn't last forever. Although I have never r ...more
Jennifer
Feb 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sue
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Austen and James (who aren't looking for a modern mystery)
Ah! P.D.James writes an Austen mystery. When I read about this book, I knew I had to read it. When I started reading it my brain was slightly confused because it was P.D.James but I was in the early 19th century and I haven't been there recently. It took some mental adjustment on my part but the outcome was acceptance, complete and enjoyable.

I have read some comments of "slow" parts of the novel and lack of a mystery but to me it was all in keeping with a novel of the time where behavior of the
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P. D. James, byname of Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born August 3, 1920, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England—died November 27, 2014, Oxford), British mystery novelist best known for her fictional detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard.

The daughter of a middle-grade civil servant, James grew up in the university town of Cambridge. Her formal education, however, ended at
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“We have all sinned, Mr. Darcy, and we cannot look for mercy without showing it in our lives.” 11 likes
“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?” 11 likes
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