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Death Comes to Pemberley
Cover of Death Comes to Pemberley
Death Comes to Pemberley
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A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of...
A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of...
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  • A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.
     
    It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.
     
    Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s...

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    AUTHOR'S NOTEI owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation, especially as in the fi nal chapter of Mansfield Park Miss Austen made her views plain: "Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest." No doubt she would have replied to my apology by saying that, had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.

    P. D. James, 2011

    PROLOGUE

    The Bennets of Longbourn


    It was generally agreed by the female residents of Meryton that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their fi ve daughters. Meryton, a small market town in Hertfordshire, is not on the route of any tours of pleasure, having neither beauty of setting nor a distinguished history, while its only great house, Netherfi eld Park, although impressive, is not mentioned in books about the county's notable architecture. The town has an assembly room where dances are regularly held but no theatre, and the chief entertainment takes place in private houses where the boredom of dinner parties and whist tables, always with the same company, is relieved by gossip.

    A family of five unmarried daughters is sure of attracting the sympathetic concern of all their neighbours, particularly where other diversions are few, and the situation of the Bennets was especially unfortunate. In the absence of a male heir, Mr. Bennet's estate was entailed on his nephew, the Reverend William Collins, who, as Mrs. Bennet was fond of loudly lamenting, could turn her and her daughters out of the house before her husband was cold in his grave. Admittedly, Mr. Collins had attempted to make such redress as lay in his power. At some inconvenience to himself, but with the approval of his formidable patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh, he had left his parish at Hunsford in Kent to visit the Bennets with the charitable intention of selecting a bride from the fi ve daughters. This intention was received by Mrs. Bennet with enthusiastic approval but she warned him that Miss Bennet, the eldest, was likely to be shortly engaged. His choice of Elizabeth, the second in seniority and beauty, had met with a resolute rejection and he had been obliged to seek a more sympathetic response to his pleading from Elizabeth's friend Miss Charlotte Lucas. Miss Lucas had accepted his proposal with gratifying alacrity and the future which Mrs. Bennet and her daughters could expect was settled, not altogether to the general regret of their neighbours. On Mr. Bennet's death, Mr. Collins would install them in one of the larger cottages on the estate where they would receive spiritual comfort from his administrations and bodily sustenance from the leftovers from Mrs. Collins's kitchen augmented by the occasional gift of game or a side of bacon.

    But from these benefi ts the Bennet family had a fortunate escape. By the end of 1799 Mrs. Bennet could congratulate herself on being the mother of four married daughters. Admittedly the marriage of Lydia, the youngest, aged only sixteen, was not propitious. She had eloped with Lieutenant George Wickham, an offi cer in the militia which had been stationed at Meryton, an escapade which was confidently expected to end, as all such adventures deserve, in her desertion by Wickham, banishment from her home, rejection from society and the fi nal degradation which decency forbade the ladies to mention. The marriage had, however, taken place, the first news being...

About the Author-

  • P. D. James is the author of twenty previous books, most of which have been filmed for television and broadcast in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Policy departments of Great Britain's Home Office, and has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. The recipient of many honors and prizes, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008. She divides her time between London and Oxford.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 19, 2011
    Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series (The Private Patient, etc.). In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne’s annual ball, “regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year.” Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth’s sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen’s original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James’s pleasing and agreeable sequel. 300,000 first printing. Agent: Carol Heaton, Greene & Heaton Ltd.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 27, 2012
    James’s latest mystery is set in 1803 and picks up where Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice left off: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are married and have twin boys. The family lives at Pemberley, an elegant old mansion where they often entertain people of consequence and hold lavish balls. But a murder in the woods on the property interferes with their otherwise idyllic lives and shrouds Pemberley in mystery and fear. Rosalyn Landor turns in an excellent performance, with well-paced narration that captures the posh atmosphere of James’s (and Austen’s) world. Landor also creates unique voices for the books many characters, modulating her voice for males and lending working-class dialect to servants. Highly recommended for fans of both Austen and James. A Knopf hardcover.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2012
    Yes, that's right: Now that she's made her farewells to Adam Dalgliesh (The Private Patient, 2008, etc.), Baroness James has turned to a Jane Austen sequel. Six years after the marriage that ended Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, are on the eve of giving their annual Lady Anne's Ball when their preparations are complicated first by intimations that Darcy's sister Georgiana is being courted by both her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and rising young lawyer Henry Alveston, then by the Colonel's sudden decision to take his horse for a solitary late-night ride and finally and most disastrously by the unexpected, unwanted arrival of Lizzy's sister Lydia. Bursting from her coach, Lydia shrieks her fears that her husband, Lt. George Wickham, has been murdered by his friend Capt. Martin Denny, whom he followed into the wood when Denny abruptly insisted on abandoning the coach carrying them to Pemberley. In fact it looks very much the other way around: Denny is the one who's dead, and Wickham, bending over his body, blurts out that he killed him. Readers of Pride and Prejudice know that Wickham is a thorough scoundrel, but can he really have murdered his only friend? His averrals that he meant only that his quarrel with Denny sent him out into the wood, where he met his death at unknown hands, don't impress the jurors at the coroner's inquest or the trial that follows. Most of these developments, cloaked in a pitch-perfect likeness of Austen's prose, are ceremonious but pedestrian. The final working-out, however, shows all James' customary ingenuity. The murder story allows only flashes of Austenian wit, and Lizzy is sadly eclipsed by Darcy. But the stylistic pastiche is remarkably accomplished, and it's nice to get brief updates on certain cast members of Persuasion and Emma as a bonus.

    (COPYRIGHT (2012) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Booklist

    December 15, 2011
    Really, gentle reader, there are limits. When mystery grande dame P. D. James felt the mantle of Jane Austen fall on her shoulders, why didn't she simply shrug it off? Instead, she has produced a straight-faced mysteryno zombiesin which a murdered body is found on the grounds of Darcy and Elizabeth's stately home, Pemberley. James places a template of Austen characters and Austen-like language over a traditional mystery plot and even takes on the role of the omniscient Austen narrator herself. The mystery is set in 1803, six years after the wedding of Elizabeth and Darcy, with ample space given to catching us up on the recent doings of the Bennet family. On the mystery side, there's plenty of action, from the discovery of Captain Denny's body, through a trial, assorted deceptions and mix-ups, and love affairs. Unfortunately, though, if this is meant as an homage, it's a pretty weak cup of tea, starting with a greatly diluted version of Austen's famous truth universally acknowledged opening. James' many fans will be pleased to see any kind of new book from the 91-year-old author, but discriminating Austen devotees are unlikely to appreciate the move from social comedy to murder. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This late addition to Knopf's winter list will require some last-minute marketing, but it has two very bankable Englishwomen on its side: Austen and James.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

  • USA Today "A magnificent novel. . . . Incomparably perfect."
  • NPR, Fresh Air "A glorious plum pudding of a whodunit."
  • The Plain Dealer "The queen of mystery has taken on the queen of literature, [and] the combination sings. . . . [James'] elegance and sly wit are in top form."
  • The New York Times Book Review "The greatest pleasure of this novel is its unforced, effortless, effective voice... Not infrequently . . . one succumbs to the impression that it is Austen herself at the keyboard."
  • The New York Times "[James] is the greatest living writer of British crime fiction, and probably that genre's most talented practitioner ever."
  • The Boston Globe "A novel of manners par excellence."
  • The Washington Post "A major treat for any fan of Jane Austen . . . [and] a solidly entertaining period mystery."
  • The Wall Street Journal "A novel of dark intrigue. . . . [which] Ms. James presents with informed assurance and in fine period detail."
  • Los Angeles Times "If you appreciate mysteries as well as the Mighty Jane, this pleasant entertainment will do nicely. . . . It is a universe of dark meanings [and] hidden relationships."
  • Newark Star-Ledger "James rises well above the ever-growing pack of Austen-inspired authors, not only for her intimate familiarity with Austen's work, but for her faultless replication of time, place and, most notably, Austen's trademark writing style."
  • Richmond Times Dispatch "With well-laid clues, James weaves a credible tale with a satisfying conclusion. . . . She stamps this enticing blend of two authors' minds with her formidable intelligence and the generosity of spirit that has marked all her work."
  • Simon Brett, Sunday Express "Dazzling . . . Meticulously plotted . . . In my view Death Comes to Pemberley is as good as anything P.D. James has written and that is very high praise indeed... Long may she continue to delight and surprise us."
  • Kirkus Reviews "The final working-out shows all James's customary ingenuity. . . . The stylistic pastiche is remarkably accomplished."
  • Publishers Weekly "A pleasing and agreeable sequel... Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage... Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets."
  • The Huffington Post "Satisfying. . . . [James is] an impeccable stylist and a psychological ins-and-outs maven."

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