Monday, 14 October 2013

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James


It was generally agreed by the female residents of Meryton that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters.

This sounds like Jane Austen in more ways than one. Marriage and Bennet in the first line. What follows is a description of Meryton, but not the usual, hackneyed how many trees or weather variety, but instead about entertainment or lack thereof and how gossiping is the drug of choice.

Chapter one:

At eleven in the morning of Friday 14th October 1803 Elizabeth Darcy sat at the table in her sitting room on the first floor of Pemberley House.

Darcy. Okay this is really ripping Austen off. So I went against the rules of review on this blog and took a peek at the blurb and sure enough this is a retelling of sorts of Pride and Prejudice. So all is forgiven.

First thing said:

"It was a happy day for us all, madam, when Mr. Darcy brought home his bride."

This is a hard opening to review. It is in the style of Austen and the question is, does that style hook readers today? Obviously, it does for some, even though Austen is not as well read today as she'd been in the past; most modern book buyers today probably haven't read a Jane Austen novel. Anyway, it's difficult to judge this opening knowing it is a retelling and by P.D. James. It is more the concept of the novel that hooks rather than the opening lines.

The prologue opens well but chapter one does not.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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