2020 Alphabet Soup Author Challenge – Death Comes to Pemberley – P.D. James

Genre: British Detective

Narrative Style: Third person, chronological

Rating: 2/5 

Format: Paperback

Published: 2011

Synopsis: Six years after Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Darcy are preparing for their annual ball when Captain Denny’s body is found in the woods at Pemberley. The ball is cancelled and the Darcys and Bingleys are plunged into a murder mystery.

Reading Challenges: 2020 Alphabet Soup Author Challenge 

Well, this was disappointing. I thought that it was an interesting idea and I like P. D. James so it seemed like a good idea. But I didn’t realise that it was going to be written in a similar style to Austen’s – not something I’m massively fond of at the best of times. Well, this book was not the best of times.

While I wouldn’t say that I was a massive fan of Austen, reading this made me realise exactly how good she actually was. James’ prose has none of the refinement of Austen’s. In fact, it was leaden and had no sparkle. It was tedious to read and I felt little compulsion to finish this book. It also had none of the excitement of James’ usual storytelling and style. It was like the worst of both worlds.

Even worse, the characters of Darcy and Elizabeth were thin and underdeveloped. James completely sucked the life out of them. Even Wickham, who should be the most interesting character in this little tale, seems flat and lifeless. None of the characters were what they were in Pride and Prejudice.

Finally, the plot, for a large part of this novel, is just not very exciting. The hints that are dropped are obvious and so the big reveal is not surprising. I wasn’t all that interested in what the results were anyway. I was just glad that it was over.

 

Books Read in 2015: 53. Persuasion – Jane Austen

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Genre: Romance, Classics

Narrative Style: third personimages

Rating: 3/5

Published: 1818

Format: Paperback

Reading Challenges: TBR Challenge

Time on Shelf: I’m not really sure where this copy of Persuasion came from – my husband wasn’t sure either – but it was definitely with us when we moved to this house 8 years ago and quite possibly has lived with us for a lot longer.

Synopsis: Eight years before the start of the story, Anne Elliot allowed herself to be persuaded against marrying Captain Wentworth. Anne completely regrets this decision. She is 27 and still unmarried when Wentworth reappears in her life. Her family are on the brink of financial ruin and Wentworth is in a much better position than before. Will they be reunited in their love or will persuasion again work against them?

I may have mentioned before that I don’t often read the classics. And one of the reasons is that it always feels a little like a school assignment. I’m reading this because it has been deemed a classic rather than I have chosen this because it sounds good. This was no different. It wasn’t particularly a chore – indeed Austen’s prose is pleasurable enough to read – but it didn’t really grab me.

The other thing against it is the fact that it is a romance. This is not my favourite genre. And while there is some interest to be had from the ironic social observations and the well drawn characters, in the end it was just another love story. The only thing that saved this from a lower rating is the fact that it is so well written.

Austen is very good at satirising vanity. The satire was particularly sharp when it came to the vanity of Anne’s father and her sister, Elizabeth. Their vanity was out of keeping with their financial standing and Austen never missed an opportunity to point out their ridiculousness. There was also amusement to be had from the description of the third Elliot sister, Mary who is ridiculously self serving. Their is no doubting that Austen is a master of her craft, this is just not really the sort of book I enjoy.