Thursday, May 24, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to PemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the eve of the annual Lady Anne Ball at Pemberley, an hysterical Lydia Wickham arrives by coach, sobbing that her husband and Captain Denny are lost in the woodland and possibly shot. Mr. Darcy and Captain Fitzwilliam mount a small search and rescue mission and discover a drunken Wickham kneeling over Denny's body, saying he's killed his only friend. They return to Pemberley and summon the magistrate and constables. But is Wickham really guilty of murder?

James does a pretty good job of summarizing Pride and Prejudice and keeping faithful to the original characterizations. The chain of events seems plausible for the world of Jane Austen, although James' use of the term "police" seems out of place for the time period. (The word existed, but did the "police force" exist as such?)

The epilogue to this book is quite unnecessary, however. The superfluous explanatory scene feels like it should have been put at the end of the original Pride and Prejudice instead (or cut entirely). It really has almost nothing to do with the murder mystery but rather is a conversation between Darcy and Elizabeth that primarily rehashes their bumpy courtship--a conversation which should logically have occurred during the engagement or honeymoon periods, not 6+ years into a good marriage.

Still, it was an enjoyable read.

For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, setting is secondary

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