As you can see from the title of this post, I didn't particularly like this book. Let me make it clear though that I am not an Austen purist, I like her work but I can see its flaws and I welcome adaptations/sequels etc (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a great book if you want to get more from your Austen) but I am a bit of a murder mystery purist, I like a decent crime with a good solid conclusion. This just didn't give me that.
This novel is set several years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, and while Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are preparing for the annual Autumn Ball, Lydia careens onto the scene wailing about her husband Wickham being murdered in the woods by their friend Denny after having an argument. Obviously, chaos ensues as the characters try to solve the mystery.
Now for my issues with the story, the main one being that it didn't really feel much like a murder mystery story to me at all, more like a story with a mystery tacked on. There was too much other stuff going on, I didn't feel like there were many revelations or clues to the solution nor even much detecting throughout the story, and the solution felt very rushed. I have never read any of P.D. James's crime novels, so that may just be her writing style, but it felt entirely unsatisfactory.
The writing I am afraid to say could not carry the non-plot either. I almost abandoned this book, I found it that difficult to read. I appreciate that it is probably difficult to write in a way which mimics the nineteenth century, but it did not have the flow that true writers of the period had, and James attempts to match Austen's wit but falls slightly short of the mark, which sort of left those passages of the novel floundering for a reaction. She also managed to shoehorn in some foreshadowing of things to come which just made me groan with disappointment, even mentioning characters from Austen's other novels as additional characters. It was as if James was determined to make you feel as if you were reading a parody, not a serious attempt to write a novel which is a dedication to her favourite author.
I ploughed on to finish the novel because I knew I would want to know who at least had committed the crime so that I didn't wonder in a few years time and try and read it again. But believe me when I say that I really did have to actually work towards finishing this book. It was not enjoyable for me at all.
Now that is not to say that you may not enjoy it, because I know readers in my library that have enjoyed it as well as ones that share my opinion. I recommend that if you are curious, give it a go, but I wouldn't spend money on it just in case as this does seem to be a real love/hate novel.
I am afraid only ★