Death Comes to Pemberley
Posted by nliakos on April 1, 2012
by PD James (Knopf 2012; eBook)
I love Jane Austen; I love Pride and Prejudice; and I love P. D. James, so it was inevitable that I would have to get James’ sequel to P&P. It is several years after Elizabeth married Darcy; they are living at Pemberley with their two young sons, and Elizabeth’s sister Jane lives not far off, at a place called Highmarten with her husband Mr. Bingley and their children. Just before the Darcys are about to host their annual ball, Elizabeth and Jane’s wayward sister Lydia descends upon the house in hysterics. On her way to crash the party with her husband, the despised George Wickham, and his friend Captain Denny, the two men had gotten out of the carriage and run into the Pemberley woods and had not returned, but shots were heard. Sure enough, Captain Denny is found dead, with Wickham kneeling over him and proclaiming his guilt. Surely an open-and-shut case! But not at all. James strings us along all the way to the end, dropping hints along the way but never revealing whodunit.
I especially enjoyed being privy to the inner thoughts of both Darcy and Elizabeth. James describes Darcy as shy, determined to do the right thing, and very much in love with Elizabeth. She paints Elizabeth as good, but not completely immune to status and money, and as still somewhat conflicted about Wickham. Other characters, whether known or unknown from Austen’s books, are convincingly portrayed. Although it’s not a page turner (it falls short of James’ best Dalgliesh novels), I still thoroughly enjoyed it.