The plot: Having read Pride and Prejudice umpteen times I was finally ready to succumb to a sequel set six years after Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy have married. Written by highly acclaimed author P.D. James and promising to be a darker tale of death, murder suspicion and intrigue, it sounded just the ticket for a winter afternoon.
The bad bits: Although the plot is promising there are so many flaws it begins to become a painful read. Admittedly, I had to force myself to read the last 5 pages made up of Darcy and Elizabeth discussing their relationship ups and downs in P&Ps. There can be no real purpose of going over old ground, in detail, which ardent fans do not need to know, and those who don’t, can read the first book themselves.
The book focuses mostly on the male characters; Mr Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam and of course the infamous Mr Wickham. If you are hoping for more adventures from the Bennet girls then don’t expect much. Even Elizabeth, our headstrong, witty and most
favourite heroine hardly has two words to put together. How can P.D. James possible write of our beloved girl ‘ Elizabeth had been sitting quietly wondering whether she could speak without making matters worse’ and a mere five pages later is quoted as not even knowing what to say. No, I couldn’t believe it either.
If it hadn’t been for the complete lack of Bennet passion, wit and friendly feuds then this sequel would have stood a fighting chance as a new classic favourite.
Worth a mention: P.D. James writes in her notes, ‘ I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation….had (Austen) wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.’ Well P.D. James, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
When you should read it: If you still want to give it a go, its suited to Autumn/wintry days. If you do happen to find Miss Austen’s classic, then read that, if not, find something else.