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 disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.
Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it.
©2011 P. D. James (P)2011 Random House Audio
I've read many (not all) continuations of Pride & Prejudice. Generally, one of the Bennett daughters has an active role in plot development and story line. Elizabeth does not play an active role in this tale. I suppose this reflects reality for women in the earlier 19th century. The suspense, mystery is pretty trivial and the solution smacks of deus ex machina.
If you want a good story, a mystery, and Jane Austin, stick with Stephanie Barron's series.
I enjoyed the reader. She is speaks clearly and told the story well.
I have always liked PD James' mysteries, and love Jane Austen, so I had high hopes for this combination of author and characters. Unfortunately, this book is just silly. The ponderous narration doesn't help a weak story and minor mystery. The original characters are not much amplified except what would be easily predicted. The many extractions of Austen's glowing phrases for those unfortunates who have not read Pride and Prejudice are not enough to rescue this book.
This book sounded most promising, but sadly, it contains neither the wit and polish of Jane Austen nor the craftsmanship of P.D. James's other mysteries. Instead it is an odd jumble of preciosity, sentimentality and clumsiness of plotting that makes one wonder what Ms. James had in mind in undertaking this work. It certainly does not do justice to the Jane Austen tradition, rendering Lizzie a virtual non-entity and her sisters merely props to a flimsy murder tale that winds up in an unconvincing maze of improbable occurrences reflecting the worst of the English style of mystery writing. Rosalyn Landor does a valiant job of staying awake and rendering the characters, such as they are, reasonably well, but no narrator can rescue a weak book that promises far more than it delivers.
The narrator had such a mocking tone in the extended prologue that I was tempted to stop and get the printed version, but she seemed to relax a little and give a slightly better performance after the prologue. As to the sequel itself, sadly it wasn't a good mystery as James cheats the reader, and it doesn't have the charm or wit of a good comedy of manners in the Austen style. The attempt at a romantic dilemma with the Georgiana angle was pretty weak. It's as though James couldn't quite make up her mind what kind of book she was writing and missed on both counts. On the positive side, it was nice to revisit Pemberley for a brief stay and spend a little time with Elizabeth. In the end, I was glad I took the time to listen to the audiobook, but it will not be the annual favorite that the Jane Austen books have been for decades. I did like the ending, which is very important. If this book by it's very nature wasn't begging comparisons to "Pride & Prejudice", then it might get 3.5 stars from me with a better narrator.
I thought it was well-written and quite Austen-like in its wit and portrayal of the manners of the time. There were some charming little surprise references to Austen characters from other novels which I loved.
I agree with one reviewer that the women characters were overall a little pale and retiring in this story. I would have to say Darcy is the most central person, and his self-reflections are interesting.
The narrator was easy to listen to, and I loved her working class Brittish accents.
Old family scandals breed fresh problems for Elizabeth and Darcy.
This was a very enjoyable listen. Don't let the critical reviews dissuade you from giving it a try!
If you are a Pride and Prejudice junkie, you will be horrified at seeing the P&P crew thrown into this unnecessary mess of a story. The subtle humor of the P&P tale is positioned awkwardly beside the abject horror, untouched by any possibility of laughability, of the brutal murder of a beloved, if minor character. The agony of a family watching a young man slowly dying is not exactly light reading, and the Herculean task of trying to reform Wickham from a likeable villain to a model citizen that you fervently hope will be the next victim is cruel to P&P lovers. The whole P&P crew are transformed from a cast of characters that you understand and love, into gang of empty-headed plug-uglies you would find it impossible to care less about. As for Darcy and his pleasant cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, I promise you will not even recognize them!
If you are a mystery aficianado, your inevitable disappointment will be based on the fact that none of the heavily handled list of suspects have anything to do with the murder, and the one who did the deed had an inside story that the author did not see fit to share with you so you could have the fun of exercising your own powers of deduction.
I feel sure every P&P character, down to the lowest footman, would complain bitterly at being made a part of this affront to the memory and brilliance of Jane Austen. This story could have easily centered around any random family, the presence of the P&P crowd is not necessary in the slightest. It would not have been one bit more interesting, but at least it would not have been an abomination on top of being a deadly bore.
I took a chance on this book because it was written by a seasoned author that I was informed was a class act. This is my first experience with Ms. James, and I wanted to like this. Now all I want is my money back, but I will not pursue this option, because I deserve to pay some penalty for thinking the original Pride and Predjudice saga could be added to by anyone but J.A herself.
PS: Rosalyn Landor did a beautiful job narrating this, and I will certainly look for more of her work!!!
every time i finish reading "pride and prejudice" i wish i could see what happens next. seems like this book is what happens when a mystery writer has the same thought. it was fun to see what comes out of the imagination of another jane austen fan. you really can't expect it to be a real sequel since austen is, you know, dead. there isn't the same subtle character study but there is some historical commentary and context that i found interesting/amusing.
it was a totally self-indulgent purchase (just to spend more time with elizabeth and darcy) so that was satisfying and worth it.
I was a high school history teacher and a physician assistant-retired.
P.D. James writes in the style of Jane Austin and Rosalyn Landor gives voice to the many characters with the expertise of a trained actress. James tells an interesting story, but she gives too few clues to possibly guess whodunnit, and then she has to give too long an explanation of the culprit's motivation. I wish she had included the pomposity of Reverend Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
It is well worth the read just to return to the characters immortalized by Austin in
Yes, she writes well.
Her voices were spot-on. A good reader like Landor helps the listener keep focused on the characters.
Death Comes to Pemberley: Family Feud Fuels Fatality
This Charming, Loyal and Loquacious story chaptured me from the beginning. She begins in the tongue-in-cheek manner that begins Pride. It is the untrustworthy voices of the Gossops that return us to the world first created by Miss Austen. I laughed aloud to hear them describe the events of Pride. Although nothing comes close to the rapier sharp writing of Miss Austen, P.D. James does an admiral job of attempting to maintain that style. Although toward the end, I did have fatigue from the explaining, explaining and more explaining that had to tie all the loose ends together. It was fun to be with Elizabeth and Darcy again. And I did want to reach through my earbuds and throttle Lydia. Definately worth the time to listen.
P.D. James excellent writing is always enjoyable to read or hear. The narration was good.It was great fun to meet again the familiar, loveable, and humorous characters from Pride and Prejudice.
I loved the moment when the carriage driver pulled up in front of Pemberley with the hysterical Lydia! She hasn't changed a bit!
Easy to listen to; did not overshadow the writing or the story.
I liked all the times when you were allowed to see the relationship and caring between Elisabeth and Darcy, and how their characters had matured over time.
I could not decide if P.D.James was serious, or if this was a parody or satire of sorts. I would be glad to know what other listeners thought! Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot!
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