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Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley

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Written by P. D. JamesAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by P. D. James

  • Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • On Sale: December 6, 2011
  • Price: $25.95
  • ISBN: 978-0-307-95985-0 (0-307-95985-6)
about this book

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.

“Brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James’s imagination. . . . An acute admirer of Austen’s novels, James keeps her sequel close to their ironic spiritedness, moral toughness and psychological finesse. . . . The murder trial at the Old Bailey is a bravura piece of legal theatre. . . . Informed portrayal of life above and below stairs in a Georgian country house is one of the novel’s most striking accomplishments. Another is its pleasurable re-creation of the atmosphere of Austen’s fictional world. . . . Figures from Emma and Persuasion are ingeniously deployed to contribute to the resolving of the story.” —Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

“This ‘dream team’ of crime fiction, Jane Austen and P. D. James, combines James’s meticulous plotting with Austen’s sharp-eyed characterization. . . . I relished James’s pastiche of a letter from Lady Catherine de Bourgh: an absolute gem. Austen buffs will have great fun spotting references which roam freely in the Austenian landscape. . . . A great joint achievement, and a joyous read.” —Jane Jakeman, Independent
“Of all the other pens to take up where Austen left off, P. D. James’s is head and shoulders above the rest. . . .Her charmingly conceived murder mystery unfolds like a big soft comfort blanket just in time for the nights drawing in: the nation’s best-loved crime writer and best-known romance in a magic meld, with Downtony moments below stairs, spooky moonlit bits and some police procedural thrown in for good measure . . . The pitfalls in co-opting Austen are obvious, but James avoids them deftly. . . . James takes Pride and Prejudice to places it never dreamed of, and does so with a charm that will beguile even the most demanding Janeite.” —Claire Harman, Evening Standard

“Dazzling. . . . Meticulously plotted and entirely convincing. . . . A book that combines the grace of Jane Austen with the pace of a thriller. . . . 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.” —Simon Brett, Sunday Express

“An elegant, compelling read and clearly a labour of love. . . . Combines a pacy detective story with perceptive insight into Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage and an eye for period detail. . . . In another writer’s hands a plot that plunges Elizabeth and Darcy into the midst of a murder investigation could have been disastrous. James, with her writing skills and lifelong passion for Jane Austen’s work, takes the challenge in her stride. . . . She adds that if Austen had written this book she would have done it better. I’m not so sure.” —Emma Lee-Potter, Daily Express

“Fans of Austen and Lady James will be alike delighted. . . . The development of Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage is one of the points of interest of the novel and it is uncommonly well done. . . . The novel reads happily and, as ever in P. D. James’s novels, the settings are beautifully and thoroughly imagined, the descriptions exact. I can’t think that it could be better done.” —Alan Massie, Scotsman

“A magnificent novel. . . . Countless writers writing in a plethora of genres have tried to recreate Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but James’s new novel is incomparably perfect. . . . In James’s deft hands, the couple’s life after Pride and Prejudice is imagined in a delightful though eerily prescient way. It’s as if James is channeling Austen, perfectly emulating her in language, rhythm, and tone.” —Carol Memmott, USA Today

“A glorious plum pudding of a whodunit. . . . I enjoyed this mystery enormously. . . . James and Austen are suspense sisters under the skin. . . . James ingeniously works in characters and themes, great and small, from Pride and Prejudice, and also gives erudite nods to the history of forensics and jury trials in Great Britain.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air/NPR

“A literary work several levels above the usual derivative jeu d’esprit. . . . Wickham’s case proceeds through an inquest and on to a trial at the Old Bailey in London, all of which James presents with informed assurance and in fine period detail. . . . James has done an impressive job in combining her crime-novelist technique with Jane Austen’s sweetly acidic sensibility.” —Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

“A solidly entertaining period mystery and a major treat for any fan of Jane Austen. . . . What’s not to like? . . . This is a novel one reads for its charm, for the chance to revisit some favorite characters, for the ingenious way James reworks—or resolves—old elements from Austen. . . . At times James channels quite perfectly the tone of her famous model. . . . Stately yet witty.” —Michael Dirda, Washington Post

“Legendary crime-fiction writer 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.” —Fran Wood, Newark Star-Ledger

“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.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“An intensely satisfying mystery. . . . James channels Austen’s voice with brio.” —Hephzibah Anderson, Bloomberg News

“The final working-out shows all James’s customary ingenuity. . . . The stylistic pastiche is remarkably accomplished.” —Kirkus Reviews

“P. D. James has recreated the world of Jane Austen magnificently. . . . Fans of Pride and Prejudice will be more than chuffed.” —Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph (UK)

“This portrait of Georgian law and order, laced with authentically Austenian wit, is a sparkling curio that will appeal to both Janeites and Jamesites.” —Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph (UK)