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.