Sunday, December 20, 2015

Death comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Synopsis: 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 seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

                Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

                Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it.

My thoughts: I gotta say this is the first time I’ve read a kind of spin off from a book so dear to me, and It disappointed me. I’m not used to mystery books first of all, but because it’s related to Pride and Prejudice, I got very high expectations for it.

                I liked the way the writer conducted the story, it was very organized and straightforward, and I’m glad that she kind of kept, as much as she could, Jane Austen’s style. Also, the way she linked all Jane’s worlds was very well executed: P. D. James connected Wickham with the Elliots, from Persuasion and the Knightleys, from Emma. In the beginning of this book, James explains what happened after Darcy and Lizzie’s “happily ever after”: they have two boys, Fitzwilliam and Charles; the Bingleys visit always, since they live close to one another; Mary got married (yes, it was a shock for me too); Kitty remained single, and was happy to remain as an aunt; even Lady Catherine de Bourgh became softer and a little better mannered towards Elizabeth.

                However, I have a lot of disappointments with this one: it lacked the element of tension for me, the culprit was a very pathetic one, obviously the main suspected wouldn’t be hanged in the end because he is a key-character in the original Pride and Prejudice novel, and his death would be very criticized by the whole world and fan base of the first book, no matter how idiotic the same character was. Also, the end was very lame, and don’t worry, guys, because it’s no spoiler what I’m about to say: Mr. Darcy brings back all the suffering and everything that happened six years before their marriage – which is the whole novel of Jane – , with no need at all.

                Looking at the end, although it was a lovely reading, I don’t think I would read it again, and it’s not likely that I would read another book from the same author. I know that a TV series was recently made based on this book. I intend to watch it ASAP, but I don't look very forward to it. The trailer is down here, if you want to watch it!