Sunday, January 15, 2012

Death Comes To Pemberley Review

So Death Comes to Pemberley... well initially the story sucked me in. What Austen fan hasn't wanted to see what happened to Elizabeth and Darcy after Pride and Prejudice ended? PD James is clearly a fan and wrote this novel out of her own vision of what happened next for the whole P&P crew. I've never read any of James' other books so I'm not familiar with her writing. I read a few reviews that suggested that people who were not already fans of the author or Austen would enjoy this, but what non fans would even be interested?

So the story begins with six years after P&P ends with the Darcys (now parents to two boys) preparing for an annual ball. Soon enough Lydia Wickham arrives freaking out about how Wickham and Denny left their carriage and disappeared into the woods, after which shots were heard. Wickham is later found (this is all in the very beginning of the book) over Denny's body and faces a trial for murder.

I found the inquest and trial to be repetitive and boring. Austen's books typically tell more than show; often explanations are made in length and through letters before the plot can happily conclude. James tries this technique as well but it does not quite work. Explanations of events were reiterated through the trial and too much time was wasted reexplaining events that the reader already knew.

Also we barely saw the Bingleys or any other characters. We caught up with everyone from the original books, even briefly, and I enjoyed those sections although Charlotte Lucas was portrayed in a rather negative light. Elizabeth and Darcy hardly interacted. The reader spends most of the book in Darcy's head for scenes pertaining to the trial, which again were not super interesting. Then there were random chapters narrated by minor characters that felt out of place.

The mystery in the end was a bit obvious. I figured most of it out early on so there were few surprises. Also towards the end, Darcy and Elizabeth have this long conversation where they basically rehash the events of P&P, which again was repetitive and boring for a fan of the original. James had her own take on the events of P&P and I didn't really like some of her interpretations. There were a couple cute moments. As an Austen fan, I always wished that she would have characters from one book appear in the other. Couldn't the Darcys and Knightleys ever cross paths in London or something like that? Clearly I'm not the only one who wished for this. I caught a mention of the Eliot family from Persuasion and the Knightleys (and Harriet Martin!) from Emma. My mom said there was a Sense and Sensibility reference in there too but I must have missed that one and then she wasn't sure if there actually was one.   

Next up is The Art of Fielding. I'm not really a big sports person but I've heard a lot of good things about this book, especially from my dad, who loved it. It's on the longer side, but hopefully won't take me more than a week. Stay tuned for the review!

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