by PD James (Faber & Faber) 9780571283583
PD James has done a remarkable job of reconstructing Jane Austen’s greatest literary triumph. It was easy, at first, to be lulled back into the world of Elizabeth and Darcy. Everything was so familiar.
Six years have passed. Happily settled at Pemberley, the happy couple are the proud parents of two beautiful boys.
Jane and Bingley live close by with their three children. Mary is married to a vicar, and Kitty is at home with her parents.
Lydia arrives, unannounced, on the eve of a grand ball at Pemberley. She is distraught. She believes her husband, Wickham, has been murdered in the woods. With this news Austen disappears and James takes over.
Darcy becomes so like her other literary detective, Adam Dalgliesh, it’s disconcerting. He is tormented and cerebral, and I prayed he would not begin writing poetry in the fashion of Commander Dalgliesh. Thankfully, he did not. Elizabeth is subservient and lost in this novel, and it is a good thing that she is not ever present. Most of us prefer to remember her the way Austen created her.
James weaves an intriguing tale, as always. She is a great crime writer, and I learnt so much about the English legal system in 1803-1804.
If anyone else had written this book, and if it were not linked to Pride and Prejudice, would it even have been published? I don’t think so. The book is dense and slow, and not quite what today’s reader wants.
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