P.D. James Comes to Pemberley

Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813. Almost two hundred years later the novel Death Comes to Pemberley by crime writing queen P.D. James is published, and it is meant as a sequel. There are countless interpretations of the original novel, e.g. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The intertextuality is not without significance. P.D. James does what she does best – she lets death come, this time to Pemberley.


If you are not already familiar with the characters you get an overview. You do not have to have read Pride and Prejudice to appreciate this novel, but it can seem a little strange if you have not. P.D. James uses characters from Austen’s novel and places them in a brand new novel even though they, unlike in many other interpretations, get to stay in their own era. Many certainties are cemented when it comes to the characters and they do not really evolve. The novel almost seems like an author’s wish to rewrite an ending and expose her beloved idols to unpleasantness, like she cannot help but let death touch them a little. Does it work for a Jane Austen fan like me? The answer is yes.

The Storyline

”Fiat justitia ruat caelum, or: Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

The novel is divided into three parts, where the trial takes up the main part. The murder mystery is both corny and unexpected at the same time, and it has an unusually delicate tone for a crime novel. You can hardly say anything else about the storyline. It is the small nuances that hold the story.

My Comments

The novel is well written and P.D. James sets the mood with a dark disposition. She takes the time to articulate what she wants to say and she does not miss anything. But you may ask yourself why P.D. James has decided to take this task on. I experienced the novel as a settlement from the author’s point of view and for me it was not death that came to Pemberley, but P.D. James.


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