Death Comes to Pemberly
If this book had NOT taken place at Pemberley with the beloved characters of Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice,” I think I would have had less complaints about it. I just reread “Pride & Prejudice” prior to reading this book, so that classic masterpiece was still in my head, and this one just did not measure up.
My biggest complaint is the redundancy. Having just re-read “Pride and Prejudice,” I did NOT need the lengthy summaries of that novel which took place in the prologue, epilogue, and throughout this novel. I was well aware of the characters’ background and relationships between one another, so a good chunk of my time reading “Death Comes to Pemberley” was spent thinking, “Yeah, I know this… get on with the story!” Even within the “new” material, there was a lot of repetition. Each witness tells his or her version of the events at least once, and each time it’s told with meticulous detail, though adding perhaps one or two additional facts that would only have been known to that person. By the end of the book, I felt I had read about what happened on that night at least a half-dozen times, which made the book seem rather slow.
My other major complaint were how the characters were portrayed. Most of the story is from Mr. Darcy’s perspective, and perhaps this is why it seems that the stern, soft-spoken gentleman who rarely wasted words in Austen’s novel suddenly seems to have become unnecessarily chatty and unsure of himself. According to this book, Elizabeth must have become rather boring in her first six years as Mrs. Darcy, because this story showed none of her sharp wit, stubbornness, or spunk which I loved in the original. Only kind, sweet, unassuming Jane and frivolous, flippant Lydia seemed to retain their former character traits.
My final complaint really had more to do with my own expectations. From the descriptions I had read, I went into it anticipating more of a “Clue” board game plot, rather than a “TV courtroom drama” plot. The resolution was anticlimactic and required another five or six chapters to explain away the rest of the red herrings that were thrown the reader’s way. The Darcys really were more like spectators in the events, rather than playing an active role in solving the crime, which was a disappointment.