P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story.
P.D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of the Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council, and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature (US). She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983, and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.
James's latest mystery is set in 1803 and picks up where Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice left off: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are married and have twin boys. The family lives at Pemberley, an elegant old mansion where they often entertain people of consequence and hold lavish balls. But a murder in the woods on the property interferes with their otherwise idyllic lives and shrouds Pemberley in mystery and fear. Rosalyn Landor turns in an excellent performance, with well-paced narration that captures the posh atmosphere of James's (and Austen's) world. Landor also creates unique voices for the books many characters, modulating her voice for males and lending working-class dialect to servants. Highly recommended for fans of both Austen and James. A Knopf hardcover. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Ladieeees and gentlemen, in this corner, in Empire-waist trunks, is Miss Jane Austen (aka the Chawton Nonpareil); and in the opposite corner, in the tiara, Miss P.D. James (aka the Duchess James of Holland Park). Initially, the contestants are evenly matched in this sequel to Pride and Prejudice that starts off with the briskly told story of Lydia Wickham's melodramatic, unexpected, and totally characteristic arrival at the stately doors of Pemberley; this alerts residents to the discovery of her husband on the grounds kneeling over a dead body. Thus death comes to a richly detailed Pemberley, and thus is set in motion the investigation and trial that propel the remainder of the book. When there is an autopsy (and at Pemberley!), it seems clear that this is definitely James's fight to win or to lose. Before it's all over, a gaggle of Janeites have to be forcibly ejected from the arena. Verdict A draw. Both Austen and James survive the affray to be able to fight again. Nonrabid fans of both will find enjoyment in this heartfelt, idiosyncratic valentine from the one writer to the other, although they might also be able to agree that it shows neither author at the very top of her game. [See Prepub Alert, 11/3/11; 300,000-copy first printing.]-Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.