DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY
Read by Rosalyn Landor
Random House Audio | Dec 06, 2011 | 600 Minutes
BBC Drama Productions, Far Moor (in association with), Origin Pictures
Directed by Daniel Percival
Writing credits: Jane Austen, P. D. James and Juliette Towhidi
Also available in print and e-books versions from Penguin Random House
Library Audio Download and Amazon Instant Video purchase. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own unless otherwise noted. .
A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.
Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.
Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it.
Pemberley!? Death and Pemberley?! Who died, when, where, how, etc?
Anything related to Jane Austen’s P & P automatically gets, even if it doesn’t keep, my attention. I waited what felt like millennia to download this from the online audiolibrary through the Overdrive system, and when it came through I immediately listened. Then, I downloaded the mini-series for a pittance from Amazon.com .
I was impressed by the allowances James makes for Lady Catherine DeB, softening her towards Elizabeth. And, she updates us on the disposition of all the Bennett girls.
Most interesting, and more so in the mini-series is how the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy has progressed; and how his character is humanized and how much he struggles with his feelings about Wickham.
Trying to fit a full on mystery into the framework of an existing universe may at first seem easy, but I think in the end it had to have been a real bear of a task. James’ Darcy is very different from mine, although I love her Lydia. In the recording of the text, Elizabeth seemed pretty wan, quite dull. All of the characters are better presented in the mini-series. Some quite delicious gentlemen play the male characters.
I was impressed with how plainly presented Elizabeth Bennett is in the mini-series. The costuming is very realistic and the no makeup look may have actually been achieved with no makeup. The actor playing her, Anna Maxwell Martin has gotten where she is on tlent and not on starlet looks. While she is a very attractive woman, she is not as pretty as other woman who have played the character are. However, her skills and the depth she brings to the character are outstanding.
The other actors are also excellent: Jenna Coleman is the absolutely perfect Lydia. Matthew Rhys (whose looks are remarkably elastic — I would never recognize him on the street) gives the arrogant Mr. Darcy a humanity and falliability I don’t think even the amazing Colin Firth did. Matthew Goode, who I saw earlier this year in THE IMITATION GAME was a most convincing, less evil, Wickham. Wickham gets more play and is more interesting in the book than in the mini-series.
The plot in both cases is a serious mystery, and was a bit twisty. I liked the outcome, although it was a little overly dramatic in the climax. Wickham is a tough character to choose to rehabilitate and, well, the now late P. D. James leaves the truth of his ultimate rehabilitation a bit of a mystery. But more than that she presents the actual man as not entirely bad as we are brought to see in P & P. He has a very elastic moral compass.
There are significant differences between the book and the mini-series: In particular, the Bingleys are not featured in the miniseries as much as they are in the book, and Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are added in more.
I have read a lot of bad reviews, but I personally enjoyed the audiobook and the mini-series; I probably enjoyed the mini-series a little more than the book.
Random House’s PD JAmes Page: https://www.randomhouse.com/features/pdjames/