THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS! if you haven’t read the book or watched the first episode, look away now!
Ok so now that warning is out of the way I can share my thoughts. Firstly the book, I read this recently without actually realising that the BBC was making a dramatisation of it. I had read terrible reviews of the book, but this always makes me want to give something a read especially when it’s a Jane Austen fanfic. PD James is also a very well-respected writer so I thought I would give it a go.
Death comes to Pemberley is basically a sequel to Pride and Prejudice with a murder mystery thrown in. Pride and Prejudice is a book I know very well, so much so that I actually listen to the audio book every night when I go to sleep. I have seen every TV production and film of it and I just really really love it. I didn’t however love Death Comes to Pemberley.
What I did like about the book was the actual parts that follow on from Jane Austen’s novel, all the bits involving Elizabeth, Mr Darcy, Jane and Bingly etc, are really well written and feels like a natural follow on from the book. Maybe the author should have stuck to just writing another sequel and left the whole murder aspect out.
The main problem for me was that I just didn’t care, I thought James was lazy in her choice of victim, who cares about Denny? Such a minor character in the original book that we have no interest or engagement with him. Therefor when he is killed do we care? Not really. A good crime writer will develop the character of the victim, even if they are dead on the first page. If we don’t care to start with after a few chapters we will. But in this book PD James doesn’t bother, we are no more engaged with the victim that we are for the food prepared for the Pemberley ball.
Wickham is such an unlikeable character that I didn’t really care if he was hanged or not, I felt very little sympathy for him, and when at the end I found out what really happened I still really didn’t care.
Sadly I can’t get those hours of my life back, but I can lose a few more watching the BBC dramatisation. After all it’s the BBC they always do a good job with a Jane Austen right? Apparently wrong. So distracted was I by all the wardrobe inaccuracies that I hardly noticed the terrible story line. Thank you BBC for making me dislike Death Comes to Pemberley on a whole new level.
I’m no expert, but I know enough about the regency era to have picked up on these few points…
1. As a married women Elizabeth should be wearing a cap indoors.
2. She should also be wearing a bonnet outside.
3. She is wearing nothing under her dress!!! Even through pregnancy she would have been wearing a corset or stays, she also should have a chemise or petticoat under her dress.
4. She looks less well presented than the servants. Elizabeth looks like a cheaply dressed scullery maid, she may be outdoorsy but she is still the mistress of a great house and her husband has 10 thousand a year – no excuse for her scruffy appearance.
5. Her hair – don’t get me started on the hair!
And lastly is it just me or did Mr Alveston just suddenly appear with no introduction to the character? The BBC shouldn’t presume we all read the book and know what going on. In fact after reading the reviews on Goodreads a lot of people started and didn’t finish it. A good call on their part. Also why no Jane in this one? I do however love the casting of Lidia and Mrs Bennet, these were spot on, and the locations are amazing.
Fay once told me that I shouldn’t write reviews as I always look for the best in everything and so tend to be nice even when I shouldn’t. But here you go, a very honest review! I’d love to know what everyone else thought of the book and the TV production so far. Comments please!