Saturday, January 21, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley


Death Comes to Pemberley is the first book I've read by P.D. James, and I understand that it's a complete departure from anything she's ever written. That is a mighty impressive thing for a ninety-two year old author to do. It's fabulously inspiring.

However impressed I may be with the courage it took to write a mystery based on the characters of Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice, I am also a bit disappointed. This mystery novel is not compelling or fun. Jane Austen wrote social commentary, which always included some witty and humorous banter in the midst of all the seriousness, and it is this clever, lighthearted spark that is missing from this mystery.

That's not to say that it's not a smart novel; P.D. James has devised a mystery which is very appropriate for the setting and time that is also loyal to Austen's characters. My criticism is that she did not go far enough in drawing them out. There wasn't enough dialogue between the characters, not even between Darcy and Elizabeth(until the epilogue). That would have been the true challenge in capturing Austen's prose, and it seems that P.D. James avoided it.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a fortune of talent must be in want of Jane Austen's audience, and I do intend to read more P.D. James in the future--but in her own idiom.

5 comments:

Doug said...

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a fortune of talent must be in want of Jane Austen's audience," I love it.

Logophile said...

I've never enjoyed a book written by anyone who was writing someone else's characters.

I've been a snob about it ever since my days reading Nancy Drew (age 10). Despite the fact the books all had the same author's name on the front some them just didn't read the same and that bothered me.

TLP said...

You should write a book. You have a real talent.

Ekim said...

Love that last sentence, taken from the first.

actonbell said...

Thanks, Doug & Mike:)

Logo, I see what you mean. I did read one mystery, by Stephanie Barron, which featured Jane Austen as one of the characters and liked it, but when I tried another one of her Austen mysteries, I found it to be terrible. It's a tricky thing.

Thank you, Mom, you're sweet to me!