Review: Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

A period murder mystery using characters created by Jane Austen

I adore a love story! One of my favourites is Pride and Prejudice. I read the book in my teens and enjoyed the BBC adaptation in the mid 1990s. I was excited to learn of a sequel written by the author P.D. James a couple of hundred years after the original novel.

The dramatisation was split into three one hour episodes. The story is set six years after the end of Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are still married. This I am glad of, as I didn’t want my idea of their romance to have ended (though at the time divorce was essentially unheard of). The couple do have a child of about five years old. There is a ball being prepared for. Elizabeth’s parents arrive, and her older sister Jane. I am glad that the character traits for the parents have stayed the same. The mother, Mrs Bennett is a hypochondriac and her husband, Mr Bennett just leaves her be.

The despised Mr Wickham, who is still married to Lydia (one of Elizabeth’s younger sisters), is not invited to the ball, along with Lydia.They are planning to visit Pemberley, Elizabeth and Darcy’s home, despite not being invited. Unfortunately disaster is to strike. A friend of Mr Wickham’s, Captain Denny, seems to be attacked after leaving the carriage on the way to Pemberley. Mr Wickham is found at the scene after the carriage horses are spooked by the sound of gunshots, and Lydia is hysterical on arrival at Pemberley. The rest of the first episode sees Mr Wickham arrested for Captain Denny’s murder.

The second episode sees twists and turns in the tale. An illegitimate child, false identity and choosing of suitors plays out. The story continues into a proper P.D. James murder mystery. There are even wobbly moments within the marriage of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. This I was upset by, but in hindsight this soon passes.

The third episode has a lot more action and drama in it. Mr Wickham is on trial for the murder of Captain Denny, and still proclaiming his innocence of murdering his friend. It is Elizabeth who pieces together the truth of Captain Denny’s fate. All the way through I was trying to work out what had actually happened – my theory was not the final outcome!

I would recommend the drama if you could catch it on DVD or television repeat. The acting was superb, with Matthew Rhys playing Mr Darcy and Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth. I liked Matthew Goode as Mr Wickham, with his good looks and mischievousness of the character. I do love a good costume drama as well and this succeeded in that department. Definitely a must see if you like a good period drama.

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