Pride And Prejudice Sequel: Read An Excerpt From 'Death Comes To Pemberley' By PD James
Who would dare to write a sequel to "Pride and Prejudice" - and turn it into a murder mystery?
How about a world-famous novelist who is old enough not to care what people think?
At 91 years old, the novelist PD James, who wrote the popular Adam Dalgleish books, as well as the story that became the movie Children of Men, told The Guardian that she decided "to combine my two enthusiasms: writing detective fiction and reading Jane Austen. I thought it would be enjoyable to revisit the characters in "Pride and Prejudice" and to create a really original, exciting, credible detective story at the same time."
The novel is published on December 8th. Set six years after the end of "Pride and Prejudice," Elizabeth and Darcy are living happily on their estate when Elizabeth's sister arrives, screaming that her husband is dead. A classic murder mystery ensues...
Read on for an excerpt from "Death Comes To Pemberley" (Knopf, $25.95)
I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation, especially as in the final chapter of "Mansfield Park," Miss Austen made her views plain: “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.” No doubt she would have replied to my apology by saying that, had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.
P. D. James, 2011
The Bennets of Longbourn
It was generally agreed by the female residents of Meryton that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters. Meryton, a small market town in Hertfordshire, is not on the route of any tours of pleasure, having neither beauty of setting nor a distinguished history, while its only great house, Netherfield Park, although impressive, is not mentioned in books about the county’s notable architecture. The town has an assembly room where dances are regularly held but no theatre, and the chief entertainment takes place in private houses where the boredom of dinner parties and whist tables, always with the same company, is relieved by gossip.
A family of five unmarried daughters is sure of attracting the sympathetic concern of all their neighbours, particularly where other diversions are few, and the situation of the Bennets was especially unfortunate. In the absence of a male heir, Mr. Bennet’s estate was entailed on his nephew, the Reverend William Collins, who, as Mrs. Bennet was fond of loudly lamenting, could turn her and her daughters out of the house before her husband was cold in his grave. Admittedly, Mr. Collins had attempted to make such redress as lay in his power. At some inconvenience to himself, but with the approval of his formidable patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh, he had left his parish at Hunsford in Kent to visit the Bennets with the charitable intention of selecting a bride from the five daughters. This intention was received by Mrs. Bennet with enthusiastic approval but she warned him that Miss Bennet, the eldest, was likely to be shortly engaged. His choice of Elizabeth, the second in seniority and beauty, had met with a resolute rejection and he had been obliged to seek a more sympathetic response to his pleading from Elizabeth’s friend Miss Charlotte Lucas. Miss Lucas had accepted his proposal with gratifying alacrity and the future which Mrs. Bennet and her daughters could expect was settled, not altogether to the general regret of their neighbours. On Mr. Bennet’s death, Mr. Collins would install them in one of the larger cottages on the estate where they would receive spiritual comfort from his administrations and bodily sustenance from the leftovers from Mrs. Collins’s kitchen augmented by the occasional gift of game or a side of bacon.