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on 28 July 2013
This is only the second Jane Austen sequel I've ever read after reading one by Emma Tennant that was so full of inaccuracies I wondered if she'd read the book at all.
This book is by a PD James and currently being adapted for television so I gave it a try and have finished the book. In my opinion the author has tried to stay true to the characters but they seem a bit dull. I read the story with hope, it was quite a page-turner with some interesting plot twists, but I missed Elizabeth. I wanted more of Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley. Miss Bingley & Mrs Hurst get a mention but it's an opportunity missed. One thing that vexed me (though it may seem a silly thing) was the mention of luncheon. Luncheon was not eaten in England by the upper classes until later in the century. At the time the book was set they'd have had breakfast at around 10am and dinner at about 5pm - the servants ate at different times with dinner as their mid-day meal.
I would have liked more about Lady Anne's' ball and the back story of Darcy's parents or to know more of Kitty and Mary but I liked the court room drama. I also enjoyed the introduction of a few of Jane Austen's non- Pride and Prejudice characters towards the end of the story.
I bought the Kindle version which was good value and filled a need for a novel.
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on 26 July 2013
Yes it’s that Pemberley, country seat of Darcy and his wife Elizabeth (nee Bennet) of Pride and Prejudice fame. The couple are well settled and have a couple of children by now, but their idyllic existence is about to be intruded upon.

A violent death occurs in the grounds; and Darcy’s old enemy, and now his shamed and shunned brother-in-law, Wickham is involved. This creates conflicted emotions with personal antipathy struggling against family honour.

This gives a lot of scope for Darcy to stiffen his upper lip, for the family servants to display commendable loyalty, and for Elizabeth to simper about from good sister to bad sister via sweet sister-in-law, while ensuring the house is kept up to scratch.

The crime investigation is minimal, no Adam Dalgleish here, instead a Justice of the Peace and Coroner just ask a few questions and assume that those interrogated are either telling the truth or are lying for good honourable reasons, and so should not be pressed further.

A trial takes place, enlivened by a late revelation, and eventually the whole truth comes out as those in the know don’t so much spill the beans as spoon them out carefully, strictly on a need to know basis.

It is an interesting curiosity of a read; those more familiar with Pride and Prejudice may get more out of it than a one-time reader like me. PD James clearly enjoyed attempting to write in the style of Jane Austen, and I for one do not begrudge her this indulgence.

[See my weekly reviews each Friday on abibliodyssey.blogspot.com]
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on 13 January 2013
"Pride & Prejudice" is high on my list of books worth re-reading and recently I so enjoyed the latest movie with Donald Sutherland whose wonderfully human Mr Bennet will now always come to mind when I read the book again, as will the enchanting Keira Knightly with the magnificent eyes as Miss Eliza Bennet.
My favoured in bed reading is crime fiction, so when recently I was browsing for something unread but familiar in style ( The real joy of Kindle is the instant anytime delivery!) I was tempted by PD James '"Death Comes to Pemberley".
Alas! I found the initial chapters pedestrian in tone; establishing the scene of the crime and providing a few alibis through want of motive, maybe, but neither reconnecting with Miss Austin's characters, nor giving a sense of time and place.
My niggle meter hit red when I reached the bit where Darcy considers calling in the police.
I stopped reading and found in Wikipedia
"The word "police" was borrowed from French into the English language in the 18th century, but for a long time it applied only to French and continental European police forces. The word, and the concept of police itself, were "disliked as a symbol of foreign oppression" (according to Britannica 1911)."
Then I started writing this review.
I will finish the book but I doubt I will read it again: It just makes me want to return again to Miss Austin's finer works.

I gave "Death Comes to Pemberley" two stars because there are books that I would not pick up and those which I would discard before the end of the first chapter.
After finishing the book I've upgraded to 3 stars because the author's comments are interesting, but in future I am determined to review only books to which i can give 5 stars
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on 13 April 2013
I'm not a big fan of books that are written as sequels (or prequels) to well-loved fiction but was surprised by how admired this book was by critics. I started reading it in the gym as it was fluffy and easy enough to put down and pick up without losing any of the plot.

James has worked hard to keep the tone of her writing in step with that of Austen, she is reverential enough not to make too big a leap in style but witty enough to keep that slightly sarcastic edge that makes Austen so enjoyable today. The difficulty is that her characterisation is weak.

The plot is simple enough. It is six years since Darcy married Elizabeth Bennett and they are happily ensconced at Pemberley with two sons. Jane and Bingley live nearby and the rest of the Bennett family further away. The death is that of Denny, friend of Wickham, and Wickham becomes the accused sent to trial. This takes the majority of the book, the actual denouement is rushed and the solution to the crime more than a little feeble.

As a book to be read for a little light relief it is fine but it fails both as a satisfying crime novel and also as a pastiche of Austen.
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on 30 March 2017
I hated the T.V. version of this. After Colin Firth and co. I felt the actors were insipid. So it was with some trepidation I approached the book. I like P.D. James but I probably would never have read this had it not been a reading circle choice. I also dislike authors who write sequels to other authors work. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Beware it could've been better with more depth of character and a better plot.
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on 23 December 2013
I enjoyed this book far more than I expected after hearing so many negative reviews. I love Jane Austin and enjoy P.D.James. I'm not an English academic or a critic. I didn't expect this to be an Austin sequal, just a detective story set around Pemberly using Austin's characters many of whom came across exactly as I imagined. In particullar P.D's treatment of Mr. & Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, Mr. Collins and Wickham was true to form. If anything the detective story could have been a bit more complicated. I was surprised to find the BBC had made a series of the book and am waiting to see what sort of fist is made of it.
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on 14 January 2017
Hmmm!! I have seen the TV adaptation a couple of times but wanted to read the book. At first, I enjoyed the descriptions and the pace. Obviously there was some repetition of facts from the original but they were, I feel, essential for folks who had not read P+P.
I was thoroughly enjoying the book until just after the trial, when it seemed to find itself stuck in glue! The pace slowed to almost reverse and became bogged down in, I feel, unnecessary detail. What a shame, as I felt so positive when I began reading.
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on 13 December 2013
This book was bought for my wife as a present, at her request. She is a PD James fan, rather than an Austen fan, and I know she enjoyed the book very much. The genre is always a bit contrived - officially approved stories in the style of an author no longer writing. To me it seems a bit of a fake exercise, although I must admit I did personally enjoyed Anthony Horowitz' take on Sherlock Holmes!
Anyway, the purpose of a book, as with any present, is too give pleasure, and this one certainly did. James is a consummate author and worthy of great praise. Perhaps one day there will be people writing imitation PD James too....
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on 2 February 2015
Despite the occasional flash of authentic sounding pastiche, I rate this as a thoroughgoing failure at what it attempts to do. James is just not a very good writer full stop. There are anachronisms. I was taken aback by the following: 'it was 8.45 of the clock'. Surely 'it lacked a quarter of nine' would have been rather more likely to have been said by a Georgian. References to 'the police' I also found puzzling as they did not exist at the date this is set.

The book is not well constructed. The story is rather dragged out, particularly at the end, with a very long epilogue following the reveal of whodunnit and why.

On the plus side, I did not guess the solution to the mystery, and this stands up rather as the weaker Christies stand up. I think the whole would have been more fun if the murder had implicated the central characters rather than Wickham and Lydia. There are other sequels to P and P; I might well sample another but will not be reading any more James.
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on 1 February 2014
It's impossible to assume 100% the mantle of a brilliant story teller like Jane Austen but P.D. James comes very close. She follows on Pride and Prejudice some six years later with Mrs Bennett the mother of four married daughters but James cleverly summarises the whole novel with her own shrewd commentary in the Prologue with some very shrewd comments on the various characters e.g 'Elizabeth had never been popular in fact some of the Meryton ladies occasionaly suspected that Miss Lizzy was privately laughing at them.' For me the joy of the novel lies in the superb dialogue and all the subtle and unsubtle village gossip. There's a decent murder mystery too with a well sustained plot.
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