Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Death Comes to Pemberly

Death Comes to PemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's tough to take on one of the most beloved books of all time.  Well, at least if you love Pride and Prejudice, you REALLY love it.  So, anyone messing with it had better get it right.

I've tried to read several books that were "sequels" to P&P mostly because I miss those characters so much that I want someone to get it right.  PD James does and she doesn't.  She does what she does best, which is write a mystery.  She tries really hard to stay true to the characters and to move us down the road to finding out what has happened and what is going to happen in their lives and for that I think she deserves some credit because she did do it in a pretty entertaining way.  I was intrigued enough to read the whole book and I am one of those people who will drop a book after the first 50 pages.

I think she also had a vision in mind for Lydia and Wickham (Did he do it? Will he be convicted?) and for that I love her.  You can tell that for all these years the way Austen left Lydia and Wickham in Elizabeth and Darcy's world as their family connection has bothered her and James needed to write out her own version of how to correct it for the Darcy's.  You have to love her for going to this trouble.

However, what is missing from the book is characterization.  We get a lot of plot and little of the entrancing interactions between characters that was so entertaining in P&P.  And that is where my chief disappointment lies.  She tried so hard and obviously had a clear vision of where she wanted to go.  She was thorough in her use of language of the time (although not as gifted as Austen, but who could be), but she lacked the interplay, dialog, scenes and outright fighting and comedy that marked P&P as such a classic.

In the end, it is worth reading to see her unique vision, but it is not a true sequel.  I am still waiting for that to be written.

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