Title: Death Comes to Pemberley
Age Rating: Young Adult
Star Rating: 5/5
Being a follow-up to Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, surely P.D.James has surely created the perfect sequel in Death Comes to Pemberley? The obvious understanding of the former author’s era, language, characters and locations is astonishing and the plot isinvestigationess. Our favourite characters, Elizabeth Dainvestigation of her husband are reintroduced, at their home, Pemberley, on the eve of the annual ball which celebrates both the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s wedding anniversary. It is made clear how Jane and Bingley live within a close distance of Pemberley at Netherfield. The ball is held at Pemberley and Jane and Mr Bingley are staying on the eve and night of the ball and it is when they are about to settle down for the night with a long day of preparation ahead, they see a Chaise (sort of carriage) at a dangerous speed, hurtling up the path, from the woodland. The description here is excellent. The great Pemberley doors are opened and those who have not yet retired to bed (all residents, excluding Georginana – Mr Darcy’s sister, and all the servants), witness a truly bone chilling scene when Lydia’s, Elizabeth’s younger sister steps out of the Chaise, in an awful state, screaming that her husband, Mr Wickham, has been murdered.
The situation is made clear by picking up knowledge from the Chaise driver and from what is comprehensible of Lydia’s explanation. On travelling from a local inn, Lydia to come to Pemberley to attend the ball (without sending ahead a notification of this) and Wickham, and his friend Denny travelling on further after seeing Lydia off, to another inn. On travelling through the woodland, someone had halted the Chaise, however, and Denny apparently stormed off. Wickham then followed him, leaving Lydia alone with the Chaise driver. They were gone somewhat 10 or 15 minutes when gun shots were heard. Lydia, jumping to the conclusion that it was Wickham who had been shot, ordered for the Chaise to be started at once and, distraught, here she was at Pemberley.
What to be done next, was speedily decided between the residents of Pemberley and a search party was selected: Mr Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam (who returned shortly after Lydia’s dramatic entrance, from a walk or horse ride), and Mr Alveston, who then take the Chaise into the woods, laden with a stretcher and plenty of blankets, to look for the body and the murderer. They also decided to check on the residents of the small woodland hut – Mrs Bidwell, and her children. Her husband was working late at Pemberley. They go on to discover the body, but not Wickham’s body, as expected, though he was there leaning over Denny’s clearly dead body.
Wickham, meanwhile is muttering a speech along the lines of “My friend, my only friend. And I’ve killed him…” Denny’s body is then put onto the stretcher and the group carry it back to the Chaise, also leading Wickham away.
When arriving back at Pemberley, Denny’s body is transferred onto the Gun Room table, and Wickham is locked up in another room. Jane is apparently comforting Lydia who accepts no care from Elizabeth who she seemingly hates. Mr Darcy then decides the next thing to do and that is to invite local Magistrate Sir Sewyln Hardcastle into the investigation. Hardcastle arrives and makes a memorable investigation of Denny’s body, by candlelight, and also inspects Wickham. I think at this point the reader discovers Hardcastle’s rather bossy and headstrong personality, rather like the Colonel who more or less took control when searching for the body in the woodland.
The book goes on to describe further investigation and not once does P.D.James let the reader down, creating a more than satisfying ending. Such an excellent book: a ‘must-read’ for Whodunnit fans, as well of course, fans of Jane Austen’s fantastic classic.
Death Comes to Pemberley without doubt deserves a five out of five rating for such an atmospheric plot, an excellent understanding of the characters and overall a brilliant read!
I didn’t mention this review in Wednesday’s review’s announcement, but I finished reading this book recently and thought it certainly deserved a review here. A fantastic read. I promised a review of Enid Blyton’s The Castle of Adventure, next Wednesday, but I think it might perhaps have to be another Blyton book as I haven’t had chance to read ‘Castle’. Perhaps a Famous Five?