Pemberley . . .Pemberley . . .where have I heard that word?
Where have you heard that word? Oh, yes, from Jane Austen’s
Pride and Prejudice. Very clever of P.D. James to think of . . .
using the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy as a
background for a murder! Pemberley is Mr. Darcy’s wealthy
estate—and we are treated to all the bells and whistles of maids
and butlers, the cheeses, meats and tasty tarts served on silver trays.
The story of the Bennetts with their five unmarried daughters
is brought up to date at the beginning and we just about get
everyone squared away (married) when a murder occurs out in
the “Woodlands” of Pemberley. (You have woodlands at your
P.D. James has a wonderful way with characterization. I think I
have a picture in my head of every one in the family–and the
neighbors, too—and those at the trial at the end of the book.
And there are a few hints at humor.
But I’m sorry to tell you that the book gets bogged down in a major way
–almost from the beginning until about the last eighty pages when you
are trying to solve the murder. I expect that Ms. James had to tiptoe
about a little to get the story the way she wanted it–since she was using
Jane Austen’s plot.
And, to be fair, James makes a very nice comment at the beginning
as she apologies to Jane Austen for putting Elizabeth through the
discomfort of a murder investigation.
“No doubt she would have replied to my apology by saying that,
had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have
written this story herself, and done it better.”
If you’re a Jane Austen fan with a capital F you’ll probably devour
it. But it was slow going for me and I think it can’t be called one of
P.D. James’ better books. My apologies.
Two button review.