Friday, October 23, 2015

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D James

I first stumbled across the TV mini-series of "Death Comes to Pemberley" first before I read the book. I was excited because I recognized some of the actors from various shows (shout out to Matthew Rhys from The Americans and Matthew Goode from The Good Wife) and I wanted to see them in other things. I watched 1 episode and asked my British friends if they had seen it.

Man, oh man. Sequels to books written by other authors is a hot button topic, and I had NO idea. My one friend flat out told me that she refused to acknowledge the sequel and all sequels to Jane Austen books. Her reasoning, which I understand, is that if there was meant to be a sequel, then a sequel would have been written. She compared it to fanfiction, which I can see why she did. My other British friend read the book, hated the book and didn't watch the show. However, she stated that maybe she should watch the miniseries because it would have been better than the book. My final friend loved the show, but didn't read the book. A lot of strong opinions, and so I decided to finish the TV series, read the book, and do a couple posts about it! 

Now, here is my stance on sequels written by other authors. I don't really care. I acquired a book titled, "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" by Linda Berdoll and I thought it was a great read. Maybe they don't bother me because of my experience with the first sequel I read! I think Pride and Prejudice is iconic because people want to know what happened to those characters. It's such a romantic story and we want to read after they get married. 

Now let's get to the book. I'm going to do a "which is better?" post between the book and the TV series, but I will say this: I am glad that I watched the series first even though I am a bit curious to see if I would have reacted the same way if I didn't watch the series first. 

It took me a couple of weeks to get through. Those who follows my blog know that it does not take me long to get through books, but this one... took me a bit. It's... disappointing. There is a mystery surrounding whether Mr. Wickham killed Captain Denny, and there is this trial and conclusion to the trial... and that's it. There is a conclusion to what happens to the Wickhams and then Darcy goes back to Pemberley. There is this bit about Darcy's ancestors and relationship issues with the Wickhams and... it just putters out. There really isn't any life within the book and the characters just fall flat. I'm disappointed in P.D James because I read some of her other books, and I enjoyed them! I think part of the fun of sequels reimagining characters and putting them in new situations or crazy situations... and this wasn't it. 

The only characters I thought were imagined well was Lydia and Jane, who, are supporting characters, at best. I thought the rest of the characters were 1 dimensional and I felt like it was the Darcy show, instead of the Darcys show. I liked Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, but it was mostly about Elizabeth Bennet's journey, not his. There is a weak twist that I saw coming because I watched the series before I read the book, and the series embellished certain story points, which is a good thing because there wasn't a connection between certain characters in the book. 

So, I think the danger of reading different sequels of Pride and Prejudice is the depiction of side characters. I was always curious about Colonel Fitzwilliam and how he fit into the whole Pride and Prejudice world. I really liked what happened with him and Georgiana in "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" but in this book.. he just falls flat. He's there, supporting Darcy and the whole shebang, and then just... leaves. There is never a confrontation between him and Darcy over Georgiana nor is there a serious discussion about Georgiana's future between Darcy and Elizabeth. 

Finally, the conclusion to the trial and the epilogue of the book ties up in a nice, neat bow without ever addressing any issues of who Wickham is and his ability to provide for Lydia. 

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