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Published 16th Oct 2011
Phyllis Dorothy James, or P.D James, is best known for her novels of the crime and thriller genre, particularly her series of mysteries starring poet and investigator Adam Dalgleish. However, this time she’s adding a twist – 91-year-old James is set to publish Death Comes to Pemberley, a novel that integrates crime and death into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The novel is set in 1803, six years after Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage, and the couple have two young sons. Elizabeth is content in her marriage, and her sister Jane and husband Bingley live within 17 miles. It is the eve of the autumn annual ball and the Darcy’s are planning to retire for the night when a chaise appears, and out gets Lydia Wickham (Elizabeth’s sister), uninvited, screaming that her husband has been murdered. Enticing!
However, James is not the first author to explore and expand Jane Austen’s imaginary worlds, with more than 40 Austen-based novels published in 2010 single-handedly. Similar works include Darcy’s Story by Janet Aylmer, which retells the novel from the antagonist’s point of view, along with Seth Grahame-Smith’s instant bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Likewise, Joanna Trollope only recently announced that she was writing a contemporary Sense and Sensibility, due for publication in 2013.
Sarah Crown, of the Guardian, said that Death Comes to Pemberley is “politer” than various others in that it’s a “sequel rather than a rewriting”, and I agree. After all, if you were one of the greatest authors of all-time, would you be happy with your plot being edited and re-worked? Even P.D. James stated that the novel would be "not an emulation, but a tribute" and went on to apologise to Austen for “involving her beloved Elizabeth in a murder investigation.”
It’s safe to say, I’m looking forward to hearing what happens next to the Darcy’s, rather than what happened instead! Check it out on November 3rd.