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Death Comes to Pemberley Hardcover – 3 Nov 2011

3.2 out of 5 stars 851 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition (3 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571283578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571283576
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (851 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'As might be expected from a celebrated crime novelist, her follow-on to Pride and Prejudice introduces a detective story into Austen's world; but without any tremor of incongruity. An acute admirer of Austen's novels (which, her autobiography makes clear, she has been re-reading for more than 80 years), she keeps her sequel close to their ironic spiritedness, moral toughness and psychological finesse ... brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James's imagination.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

'P. D. James has the advantage in having both the skill and the intelligence to hold her own in Austen's company. Her charmingly conceived murder mystery unfolds like a big soft comfort blanket just in time for the nights drawing in: the nation's best-loved crime writer and best-known romance in a magic meld, with Downtony moments below stairs, spooky moonlit bits and some police procedural thrown in for good measure ... James takes Pride and Prejudice to places it never dreamed of, and does so with a charm that will beguile even the most demanding Janeite.' --Claire Harman, Evening Standard

The story is accomplished and witty, naturally, but to see James s sensibility at work on the character of Jane Austen is a wonderful treat. I find the merging of these two women of literature from such different ages to be totally intriguing. --Melvyn Bragg, New Statesman >>
A tribute to Jane Austen and a sheer delight. A book to banish Boxing Day blues. --Allan Massie, Spectator

Book Description

P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Should one's admiration and respect for a highly successful author lead one to turn a blind eye to a disaster (cf Agatha Christie's Postern Gate)? Surely not, since if these Amazon reviews have any purpose, it is surely to offer advice to would-be purchasers.
In this case my advice is clear: don't!
Re-read 'Cover Her Face' instead.
To write a thriller in the style of Jane Austen is about as useful an enterprise as telling the story of the Eurozone troubles in the style of Beatrix Potter. But knowing and enjoying PD James' earliest books, and sharing her love of Austen, I was very hopeful. As it happens, PD James abandons Austen-speak immediately after the Prologue and never recovers it, illustrating perhaps the imperishable brilliance of the original.
The result is a very dull and predictable story of detection with white soup and crinolines, hamstrung by the presence of so many characters above suspicion: the murderer therefore being signposted from early on.
I kept hoping for the appearance of some passing Lakeland poet, one Master Ebenezer Dalgliesh, to rattle the Pemberley shades. No such luck. It made me sad.
I can see from the Publishers' point of view that when a fine and profitable author sets off on an unexpected route, they may have little choice other than to follow and try to make it work. But in that case, why no proper copy-editing, which would have removed the several absurd repetitions and, for example, the strange situation on p81 when Darcy is placed in 2 separate parts of the house - at the same time?
The interpolation of characters from Emma and Persuasion was particularly ill-judged.
Let's hope we may escape 'The Massacre at Mansfield Park'.
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Format: Hardcover
I imagined "Death Comes to Pemberley" was going to be a cosy read for myself and Madame Gersbach to saunter through over Christmas. Here we have an "acclaimed" writer taking the characters from a wonderful Austen novel and playing about with them in a crime story. I didn't expect anything comparable to the real thing in terms of quality of prose or effortless wit but I did expect something light and amusing with an intriguing and entertaining plot.

Oh,how wrong can a poor boy be!

After an amusing and breezy prologue which introduced the main protagonists and filled in the interim between Austen's conclusion and James' commencement, the book hit the buffers.From the start,Darcy and Elizabeth were transformed into a cross between the Oxo Couple (Katy and Phillip?)and the Glums,Darcy having lost most of his haughty confidence and Elizabeth her feisty wit.The Pemberley they are given here had curiously been translated into an early nineteenth century version of "Downton Abbey" where servants held the stage alongside their crushingly boring employers in a way that I can't remember them doing in any of the Austen that I've read.The "crime" element is feeble where it isn't farcical.From time to time,the author also treats us to lectures on various aspects of the society of the time which suggest both a low opinion of the knowledge of her readers and a lack of skill in historical scene-setting.Somehow Austen managed to give us all we need to know about her world without getting out the history books and hitting us over the head with them.

In short,"Death at Pemberley" could most charitably be described as a damp squib.I wanted to like it because I admire P.D.
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Format: Hardcover
I am sorry this has been my introduction to PD James, an author I have heard highly spoken of. I rarely write reviews, but felt I had to put this down.
This book was truly awful, and it is hard to believe it would have been published if not for the successful authors name attached.
There is no character development at all, in fact the characters are as two dimensional as a photograph. None of the wit and sparkle one gets in the original Austen, but no suspense or drama worth speaking of on the crime writing side either.
If this had been a young writers first attempt, I would have said well done, and maybe in a few years with a lot of work you will amount to something.
To be honest it reads like a set of notes on which one might develop a novel; as if the writer roughly sketched some story ideas, and then could not be bothered to actually turn it into a novel.
Waste your money on it if you want, but I wouldn't bother if I were you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am always a bit dubious about the 'hommage' to a successful writer--and Austen has suffered more than most in this respect--but I do enjoy the writing of PD James usually, and so thought 'Death Comes to Pemberley' might be a delightful exception to this general grim rule that imitators never prosper.

Sadly, no. No wit, no social commentary, no sparkling dialogue, no self-examination. The characters were unrecognisable, and there was no sense of their development. This book at times reads only like a badly-written precis of the original--the epilogue, especially, resembled a re-hash of Darcy's previous thoughts about his courtship--would he really be obsessing about this six years in the future? It is hard to imagine that anyone would read this if they were not familiar with Austen, so why tediously re-tell the original plot (unless of course it is a space-filler--the thought did cross my mind).

I was sadly disappointed by this book. As a crime novel it was predictable and dull, as an Austen tribute clumsy and unsophisticated. I find it hard to believe the ecstatic reviewers here actually read the same text as I did. Please, gentle reader, don't be fooled. Save your money and buy one of James's other (excellent books). Oh that the shades of Pemberley should be thus polluted!
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