Baroness James combines her love of the murder mystery story with her love of Jane Austen to pen this sequel to Pride and Prejudice.
On the night before Lady Anne's Ball, Mr and Mrs Darcy (nee Elizabeth Bennett) are entertaining the Bingleys, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr Alveston when a spectral coach hurtles through the windy night to disgorge Lydia, Lizzie's sister, screaming that her husband, Wickham, has been murdered in the night. But who has been killed, who is the mysterious ghost woman, and why are Darcy's initials carved into the trees?
There are some nice touches such as the discussion about the need for an appeal court :"That would be the ultimate idiocy, and if carried on ad infinitum could presumably result in a foreign court trying English cases. And that would be the end of more than our legal system." Other elements of the oeuvre are mentioned such as the Elliots from Persuasion and the Knightleys from Mansfield Park. James enjoys pastiching the Pride and Prejudice characters such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Collins, and Mr Bennett but the characterisations are too modern and the dialogue never quite right; she succeeds only in confirming that Jane Austen is inimitable. And the pace of the plot seems flawed. We have a lot of family trivia to get through before the first body is found, there are too few clues, there is a sudden break with the words 'some months later' written all over it, and the denouement is disappointing.
A cute and clever book but not a great read either as an Austen sequel or as a detective story.
January 2012; 310 pages
- Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57