Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley
Genre : Fiction
Published : 7 Nov 2011 - Faber and Faber
The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the Pemberley nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live within seventeen miles, the ordered and secure life of Pemberley seems unassailable, and Elizabeth’s happiness in her marriage is complete. But their peace is threatened and old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled on the eve of the annual autumn ball. The Darcys and their guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland, and as it pulls up, Lydia Wickham, an uninvited guest, tumbles out, screaming that her husband has been murdered.

In a pitch-perfect recreation of the world of Pride and Prejudice, P. D. James elegantly fuses her lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen with her talent for writing detective fiction. She weaves a compelling story, combining a sensitive insight into the happy but threatened marriage of the Darcys and the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted detective story. Death Comes to Pemberley enshrines the qualities her readers have come to expect: psychological and emotional richness of characterisation, vivid evocation of place, and a credible and superbly structured plot, in a powerful and distinguished work of fiction.


As might be expected from a celebrated crime novelist, her follow-on to Pride and Prejudice introduces a detective story into Austen's world; but without any tremor of incongruity. An acute admirer of Austen’s novels (which, her autobiography makes clear, she has been re-reading for more than 80 years), she keeps her sequel close to their ironic spiritedness, moral toughness and psychological finesse ... brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James’s imagination.

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

This 'dream team' of crime fiction, Jane Austen and P.D. James, combines James's meticulous plotting with Austen’s sharp-eyed characterisation... [Austen] would surely have applied to it her own description of the novel, where the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language. It’s a great joint achievement, and a joyous read.

Jane Jakeman, Independent

This portrait of Georgian law and order, laced with authentically Austenian wit, is a sparkling curio that will appeal to both Janeites and Jamesites.

Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph

P.D. James has recreated the world of Jane Austen magnificently ... fans of Pride and Prejudice will be more than chuffed.

Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph

My Christmas wish-list includes DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY.

Wendy Cope, Observer

P.D. James has the advantage in having both the skill and the intelligence to hold her own in Austen's company. Her charmingly conceived murder mystery unfolds like a big soft comfort blanket just in time for the nights drawing in: the nation's best-loved crime writer and best-known romance in a magic meld, with Downtony moments below stairs, spooky moonlit bits and some police procedural thrown in for good measure ... James takes Pride and Prejudice to places it never dreamed of, and does so with a charm that will beguile even the most demanding Janeite.

Claire Harman, Evening Standard

An absolute delight.

The Bookseller

Dazzling effect ... meticulously plotted and entirely convincing ... a book that combines the grace of Jane Austen with the pace of a thriller ... in my view DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY is a good as anything P.D. James has written and that is very high praise indeed ... long may she continue to delight and surprise us.

Simon Brett, Sunday Express

In another writer’s hands a plot that plunges Elizabeth and Darcy into the midst of a murder investigation could have been disastrous. James, with her fine writing skills and lifelong passion for Jane Austen’s work, takes the challenge in her stride ... She adds that if Austen had written this book she would have done it better. I’m not so sure. DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY is an elegant, compelling read and clearly a labour of love.

Emma- Lee Potter, Daily Express

The most interesting part of the novel, however, is the sense it gives of James, as a novelist, interrogating Jane Austen and her characters. She is a very shrewd reader indeed ... Jane Austen herself would have been proud.

Andrew Taylor, Spectator

James produces a winning pastiche of Austen, preserving the integrity of the original characters while introducing a new, lower, social layer too. She shares Austen's wicked sense of humour.

John Harding, Daily Mail

The murder mystery queen.


DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY will be the Christmas present of choice in a million households ... a treat.

Amanda Craig, New Statesman

The novel is a delight. It reads happily and, as ever in P.D. James’s novels, the settings are beautifully and thoroughly imagined. I can’t think that it could be better done.

Allan Massie, Scotsman

With the publication of DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY, P.D. James, the doyenne of British crime fiction, can now add heir apparent to Jane Austen’s creative legacy to her literary accomplishments. Countless authors writing in a plethora of genres have tried to re-create Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, but James’ new novel is incomparably perfect.

Carol Memmott, USA Today

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