Friday, May 11, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley ~ P.D. James

My thoughts on P.D. James's spin-off of Jane Austen's much spun-off Pride and PrejudiceDeath Comes to Pemberley, are relatively brief.  It's one of those audiobooks that I picked up because it caught my eye at the library and I needed something to listen to while walking to campus.  I've never been particularly interested in Jane Austen spin-offs, so I was taking a chance.

It started off well.  There was a brief bit at the beginning to remind the reader of the basic plot of Pride and Prejudice and I was pretty impressed at how well-done it was - brief and to the point, but pretty complete, and not boring.  The writing was, I think, pretty true to Jane Austen's style, should Jane Austen have ever decided to write a murder mystery, and true to Pride and Prejudice itself.  As a result, it tended to be pretty predictable to people who know P&P well.  For example, if any character from P&P were to be seen wild-haired and shrieking animal-like (I don't remember the exact quote), who would it be?*  If any character were to be accused of murder, who would it be?**

But then.  It was just kind of boring.  I'm not so sure that that's P.D. James's fault so much as the format.  In Austen novels, characters tend to do a lot of sitting around chatting.  That's her thing and that's cool.  The act of reading it engages the reader enough to be entertained.  However, while walking down a road and listening to other people have a conversation in which you can have no involvement, the mind wanders.

I have little else to say, except that the end was quite predictable, much like any true Austen novel (and by true I mean written by Austen) and did a nice job of employing a common 19th century British trope for saving characters from unpleasantness, so kudos to James on that.

I guess that it was okay, and it mostly kept my attention.  I just advise that you stick with the print version, and save sword fights*** for your audiobooks.


*If you didn't just say Lydia, you are clearly not ready for this book.
** If you didn't just say Wickham, you are an impostor.  Go read the real Austen and then we'll talk.
*** Or something else slightly more exciting than endless conversation and pondering.

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