2/22/12

Books to Die For, Part One: Death Comes to Pemberley

Signature of Jane Austen. Taken from her 1817 ...
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I've been reading mysteries of late.  I've no idea why.  I'm not against them in any way, but it's not a genre I normally pick up.  I do love my Jane Austen, however, so I really wanted to read Death Comes to Pemberley by the great P.D. James.

I got the book for Christmas and had such high hopes.  I hate to speak ill of any novel.  Novels are hard. I've tried my hand at writing just about everything and nothing is harder than a novel. (The challenge is the middle, which is sort of like cross-continental travel.  It just goes on for so long and an inexpert pilot can easily lose her way or, worse yet, crash.)  It pains me, therefore, to say that Death Comes to Pemberly wasn't my favorite.  James channels Austen very well.  In fact, maybe she channels her a little too well.  The language is very Austen and so is the buttoned-down morality and middle-class respectability, but in a mystery we want tension and seediness.  In Austen we want satire.  There's not a lot of either.  If you must read about Elizabeth Bennett trying to tough it up in her snarky-smart way, you'd be better off reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is 70% Austen and 30% Seth Grahame-Smith.  At least there you have martial arts and grim zombie hunters.

More mystery reviews to come.  What are you liking these days?
 
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10 comments:

Daisy said...

I enjoy Dean Koontz for a good shivering read - usually including his beloved dog in the story...like the time - oh! don't want to give anything away!

Love John Grishom, and Nevada Barr, among others.

Daisy's Barbara
Margaret, when I first click on the "comment" link I get a blank page. I have to go back and click a second time to bring up this page. ????

Joanne said...

It's not easy to write a review on a book that doesn't quite grab you, but you were fair here. I'm actually between books right now, and am reading some nonfiction for research for my next project. I'm due to find a good novel to settle in with.

Petrea Burchard said...

No book has knocked my socks off lately. I was even a little disappointed with "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," which was good for the first 1/3 but then became preachy and simplistic. Too much telling, not enough showing.

In a day or two I'll begin Eleanor Brown's "The Weird Sisters" and I have high hopes.


I think you might have fixed Daisy's problem with the comments. I see the usual comment window, with the usual captcha. (I've gotten two responders on my Blogger complaint, both agreeing with me that we need to get rid of the current method.)

Bec said...

Well, my Kindle has got me back reading a lot and I have to say that my housework is suffering for it. I *loved* the Hunger Games trilogy (not my usual "type" but quick read and good - have your girls read them?) and just finished "Cutting for Stone" by Verghese. It was slow in some parts but the payoff was worth it and I'm still thinking about it a week or so after finishing it.

altadenahiker said...

Austen without humor wouldn't be Austen at all.

I've been reading Martin Amis, a bio on Dickens (excellent), and started a host of other promising novels that I tossed after a chapter or two. Want The Man Within My Head -- I really want that one.

Desiree said...

Tension, seediness AND satire? You mean Carl Hiaassen.

Loooovve the Hunger Games

Bellis said...

I can only handle mysteries nowadays, as they have a plot. I'm always trying to solve the crime before the author, but the good ones don't make it easy. There's only one mystery writer for me, Ruth Rendell. Her new book, The Vault, was excellent, and as it followed up on a previous book, Sight for Sore Eyes, I had to go back and reread that, then reread The Vault to see how it all tied in. Brilliant! I only discovered her about 5 years ago so I'm getting through the backlist as far as 1965. two books a year, one as Rendell, the other as Barbara Vine. The books are all set in the south of England so I'm not sure how much they'll appeal to Americans.

Tried PD James once, and couldn't get into her style.

Now enjoying Paul Torday (eg Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a very funny book).

Amalia T. said...

I'm reading a LOT of YA lately, especially fantasy, for some inexplicable reason, and also making my way through the Poetic Edda as a way to work myself up into the Sagas of the Icelanders. Adult Fantasy usually does not do a lot for me, but YA Fantasy is really hitting the fantasy sweet-spot! I'm not sure what it is that makes the difference.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I recently read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and after that Bed: A Novel. The first I would have appreciated more if I was a literary scholar - the second I would of appreciated more if it had answered the question at the center of the novel.

I also saw Beatrice Wood's ceramic show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. She wrote a book too, maybe several. I read one of them and I recall being amused.

Susan Campisi said...

I haven't had time to read novels lately. Isn't that sad? Someday.

I've never tried writing a novel but screenplays present the same challenge with that middle void. Your description is perfect.