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Death Comes to Pemberley – It’s What We’re Reading


January
2013

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Remainder
Death Comes to Pemberley
By P.D. James

P.D. James is well known for her crime fiction (“Original Sin”, “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”) so it should come as no surprise that she should bring murder to the idyllic home of Pemberley. For Austen fans, Pemberley is familiar as the estate of Fitzwilliam Darcy, one of the main characters of Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice”. “Death at Pemberley” picks up the story a few years after Darcy and heroine Elizabeth Bennet marry. The couple is happily living with their children on the Pemberley estate, hosting an annual ball and remaining respectable members of the community.

“Pride and Prejudice” did have its morally questionable characters and they become the focus of the murder investigation in “Death at Pemberley.” The incorrigible George Wickham and his wife Lydia Bennet are en route to Pemberley with their friend, Captain Denny. Wickham and Denny have a disagreement, causing Denny to jump from the carriage into the woods. Wickham is found later sobbing over the deceased Captain Denny, with Darcy, Elizabeth and the community wondering exactly what happened. Despite Darcy’s previous experiences with Wickham, he cannot believe Wickham is guilty of such a crime.

Throughout the book, P.D. James keeps the writing in a sort of Austean prose, highlighting the social etiquette of the time. James also finds a way to weave in other Austen books, noting the current state of characters from “Persuasion” and “Emma.” “Death Comes to Pemberley” reflects an author’s love of Jane Austen’s writing, integrated with James’ own expertise in crime fiction.

This book can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.