DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLY

Written by P.D. James

Review written by Roger Saville


DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLY
Faber & Faber
RRP: £18.99
Released: 3rd November 2011
Hbk

P.D. James has often said that Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice is her favourite novel. In Death Comes to Pemberley she has demonstrated her knowledge of the great classic and she captures the atmosphere of Pemberley very well. I liked the way the author picked up the quality of speech typical of Jane Austen and was encouraged to keep reading. For P.D. James to write an homage to this novel using her own genre is understandable.

P.D. James is a great writer, I admire and respect her, she has a laudable reputation and so I ask. Why is she not edited? Does no- one dare? Will she not allow it? Not editing this book does her a very great disservice. Small errors have not been picked up I believe Mr Collins is Mr. Bennet's cousin, according to Austin and there are other errors such as this. But fundamental mistakes are made. Page 8O, Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam take the body on a stretcher to the stables. At the same time Darcy is being shouted at in the hall. Darcy is in two places at the same time.

Page 279, Mr and Mrs Gardiner hurried from the room, then Mrs Gardiner, who is not there, offers refreshment. Page 280 Mr and Mrs Gardiner slipped from the room again.

Lydia packs to leave with the Bingleys but she does not seem to be in the carriage when they leave and so it goes on, and on, throughout the book.

It is so sad that a lady with such a reputation will be remembered for the many mistakes in this book.

A great deal of this book contains explanations of the events in Pride & Prejudice. I must confess to not being a fan of Jane Austin, to me reading her novels are like wading through treacle, the characters have such a narrow view of life. Charlotte Bronte said, Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works. P.D. James reflects this very well, the characters here seem to have no real feelings, which as a reader makes me unable to empathise.

It is Friday the 14th of October, 1803.  At Pemberley, preparations for the next days annual ball are underway.  The people are assembled , Darcy, Elizabeth, Bingley, Jane, Captain Fitzwilliam and Darcy's sister Georgiana. Mr Henry Alveston is also present; he is a lawyer and a new character. After supper a  chaise is seen lurching and swaying down the woodland road towards the house. And so the murder mystery begins, a compelling ‘who done it,’ it is not. The pace, such as it is, is held up by repetition and the turgid prose style of Austin, all manners, pomposity, politeness and long, long sentences. The solution to the crime is contrived and unbelievable. Dare I say it? The worst crime in this book is the absence of an editor.

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