Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Book #65 Death Comes To Pemberley by PD James

Death Comes To Pemberley

Like many, I am a big fan of Pride and Prejudice, both the original Austen novel and 1990's BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth. Over the years, many "sequels" have been produced by other writers, with mostly insipid, cheesy covers capitalising upon and sullying another writers genius, at which I have resolutely turned my nose up.

But....the premise of this was, in theory, a different and original look from a respectable writer with established credentials, a murder mystery, with our beloved couples at the centre. The idea was too good to resist.

Sadly the execution does not match the readers anticipation. Darcy and Lizzie die a little under James' pen, and lose their charisma Lizzie particularly losing all vivaciousness, and the portrait of their life at Pemberley is very slight. Both seem cowed by others at times and not at all their assertive selves.

When I turned the page to the description of a servant scrubbing the silver, I sighed with a "Who Cares?" disappointment, and the entire servant saga was completely uninteresting.

At the end of Pride and Prejudice we are told that Kitty Bennet divides her time between the Bingley's and Darcy's and becomes a great friend of Georgiana and yet James chooses to erase Kitty from the story entirely and she does not feature except as a passing mention.

Additionally great chunks of the novel seem to recap past events from Pride and Prejudice and even in some cases, recycle dialogue used in the Andrew Davies script, though the reader has a fondness for this history, it seems to exist to bump up the word count, if these elements were stripped away, you would perhaps be left with a short story or at best a novella.

The only thing of note was an expansion of the story behind the relationship of Wickham and the mysterious baddie Mrs Young, but taken as a whole, the novel is sub par as an Austen sequel, and if it were a novel in its own right and therefore not relying on Austen's already established parameters and characterisation, it would be abysmal.

I will be returning to my former rigid rule of never reading a sequel not by the original author, a phenomenon which has always dismayed me and am really rather mad at myself that I broke that rule for this mess. 2/10      

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