I suppose I can forgive this author, as she can and does write and sell other books, and has an acclaimed, lucrative and long career doing so. I honestly believe James did this for fun. Yes, even P.D. James has succombed to mashing up Jane Austen -- this with, naturally, a murder mystery. Is this what it comes to, to be finally accepted as a Great Novelist despite being female, despite not writing first hand about war and stuff that goes bang, despite being concerned about the state of the single woman and the state of the married woman, to have your work and characters mauled by everyone from cheap suits to designer brands?
[ Death Comes to Pemberly by PD James (Faber, £18.99)
PD James's Jane Austen sequel-with-a-murder is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the Boden-wearing classes, best approached as the jeu d'esprit it was conceived as rather than as a serious attempt to ape Austen's style and extend the canon. Six years after her wedding, Lizzie B is mistress of Pemberley, happily married and with two young sons. But on the night before the annual Lady Anne's ball, Lydia Wickham arrives at the front door, screaming that her husband has been shot in nearby woodland … There's much here to rile purists, from the sometimes clunky and inconsistent pastiche to the introduction of characters from other Austen novels. The murder mystery, too, is hardly James's finest, but her enthusiasm and affection for the characters keeps you reading in spite of the flaws. ]
Not everyone sees it the way the above reviewer does:
[ … In my view Death Comes to Pemberley is as good as anything PD James has written and that is very high praise indeed." The Independent's Jane Jakeman also applauded the "dream team of crime fiction, Austen and James", finding the novel "a great joint achievement, and a joyous read". Equally enthusiastic was the Sunday Times's Peter Kemp, enjoying "an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James's imagination". ]
And here is a trailer for the book, on YouTube.