Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

A Murdered Austin

As a confessed Jane Austin fan, I find myself searching for more of her books. Yes, I know that isn’t happening. I doubt Cassandra had a “lost” manuscript squirreled away in the family bank vault like sister Alice did for Nelle.

But one does hope for finding at least a satisfying pastiche.

I have tried a few, and quite frankly, I find them annoying. There are liberties taken with the characters that simply aren’t at all Janish, in either style or intent. If one doesn’t live in the time period, trying to write it and pull it off successfully is about as satisfying as a diet Dove bar. Exactly. They don’t exist because what would be the point?

Sigh. I do keep trying though.

I’d heard PD James had tried her hand at Austin with the Death Comes to Pemberley. Not having read any of her mysteries, I still decided to add the title to my TBR list, because James is a respected author and who can resist a mystery attached to the P&P gang?

I should have resisted.

But it looked so promising… image: BBC


Spying the DVD adaptation on the new release shelf I snagged it quickly. I don’t know why I sequestered it away under my arm. Perhaps I envisioned some maddened JA fan descending upon me screeching “I saw it first!” Decorum before drama. This became the byword as I settled down for an evening of what I hoped to be a lost in Austen evening, for drama versus decorum permeated Pemberley. Yes, death indeed came to Pemberley, but it wasn’t the murder in the woods that was so terrible. So much more damage had been rendered.

I had a prepared list of all that I found oh so wrong with this BBC rendering. Taking the a Thumper path of reviewing practice instead, I will say this one nice thing: At least they used the Pemberley estate from the Kiera Knightley version.

I now need to read James’ novel and see how badly they adapted it, because surely a respected author couldn’t have committed so many travesties to Elizabeth and crew, especially if she is the devotee she is supposed to be. The Amazon reviews aren’t promising. Any thoughts on James and her pastiche of Pemberley? Are there any decent Austin homages out there at all?

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6 thoughts on “A Murdered Austin

  1. I haven’t read any of the Austin homages out there, but I’ve been curious about PD James’s books (none of which I’ve read either). I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the book. Hopefully you’ll be happier with it than the screen version. 🙂

  2. Oh, Cricket. Just chalk it up as a loss. There’s no need to throw good money/time after bad.

  3. My thoughts are: they generally muck up the screen versions and the descriptions, which I like for the cadence and the way it sets the scene, is usually lost anyway. Homages, too, suffer a similar fate. They just seem forced.

    I have meant to try PD James’s novels but somehow never managed to start one.

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