Death Comes to Pemberley

There’s something about Jane Austen, and her novels, which inspire other writers to take them and their characters on and write a sequel. Or even, to tell the story from the hero’s point of view. Usually in diary form.

PD James, though, took Pride & Prejudice and gave us a murder. When I heard that the BBC was going to adapt it for Christmas this year, and I found myself in a charity-shop holding a copy of the novel, enjoying the first few pages, I thought, “why not?”.

So I settled myself in with tea and cake and an afternoon of quiet. And hoped against hope that Colonel Fitzwilliam would prove to be the murderer. He was being awfully shady. I must admit, I quite like the versions where he ends up with Anne de Bourgh. I didn’t like him chasing after Georgiana Darcy.

Anyway. I liked the writing style. I thought it captured Austen’s own style quite wonderfully, incorporating her own phraseology, and lines from the original. Having watched the BBC’s adaptation, I’m pleased that they were kept, even if I was a little confused by the stealing of a line from Oscar Wilde, however much the similarities abound between Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Bracknell. And there was a nice reference to Emma, and the village of Highbury.

The casting of the BBC production, I thought, was superb. I don’t think one jumps out as having being badly cast. Which is quite impressive, given that usually at least one character isn’t quite right. All in all, it was a wonderful mini-series, in the style of the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice. What could be better?

So if you haven’t been avidly watching over the past few days, there’s still time. And go and find the book. Changes, naturally, were made, but fortunately only minor ones. At least, I don’t recall anything major having been changed. If you like both Austen and murder-mysteries, this is a tale for you, while we await the next installment of Sherlock.

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