Sunday, March 3, 2013


Sequels to classic books, written by different authors, are usually a big disappointment.  Remember Scarlett, sequel to Gone with the Wind?  Either there are salacious details added gratuitously, that the original author would never have included, or the writing of the sequel is so poor when compared to that of the classic, that the second book is far inferior.  And I have seen books that were supposed to be sequels to Pride and Prejudice that were pitiful, gratuitous-filled attempts that were a waste of time to read and were meant only to capitalize on the famous novel.

That is why I was very pleasantly surprised to find Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James.  This book was obviously written by a lover of Pride and Prejudice, including details that reveal great study of the original book and of the style of Jane Austen.  This was a murder mystery - a genre of fiction I rarely look at - but the pacing of the book, the style of conversation, the details included, and the manner in which the plot resolved itself by bringing in characters from the original book (minor as well as major); all these details made this a book that, once started, I could not put down.  P.D. James is an excellent writer.

The book is set in 1803, six years after the marriages of Jane and Bingley, and Elizabeth and Darcy.  The first chapter gives details of those six years, and then gets into the big event. The Darcys are planning the annual Lady Anne Ball to be held at Pemberley, but the night before the big evening, a carriage comes careening down the drive, Elizabeth's irresponsible sister Lydia rushes to the door screaming that Wickham has been killed, and the plot is set in motion.

This book is especially appropriate in that it is so well written for older readers (as in "not children,") and yet there is nothing gratuitous and nothing told explicitly.  I would not hesitate to share it with teenagers, and this book is going into our school library tomorrow morning.  Particularly in this era, when so much reading for young adults is so full of objectionable elements, that in itself is probably the best recommendation of Death Comes to Pemberley.

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