I never thought a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice would ever make it on to the screen but I was (very happily) proved wrong this year. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James’ bestselling novel, aired over three consecutive nights last week in the UK and I was really hoping this would be a Christmas treat. A friend interviewed Matthew Rhys (who played Mr Darcy) for her school newspaper some years ago and said he was really nice, which may have had something to do with the chocolates he brought with him but nevertheless made me even more excited to see the programme.
Warning: this part contains spoilers!
I was sadly disappointed. Although the acting and settings were superb, some of the characters were barely recognisable from those that Jane Austen created: Colonel Fitzwilliam was rude and unfeeling, Elizabeth lost all of her sparkle and merriment and even Mr Darcy came across, at times, as cold and thinking he knew best when he didn’t. The situation certainly didn’t help and that is, I think, where the fundamental problem lay: Jane Austen simply didn’t write about murders and hangings so thrusting her characters into an environment where crime was the main theme was difficult to watch, and quite miserable! I didn’t like the fact that Mr Darcy and Mr Wickham had witnessed a boy being hung when they were little – that cast a gloomy shadow over the whole story.
Still I didn’t turn the channel when Death Comes to Pemberley was on so it wasn’t all bad! As mentioned, the actors were brilliant in the portrayal of the characters they were given – Lydia was as vain and selfish as always but you couldn’t help feeling for her the morning that her husband was sent to the gallows, Georgiana was a stronger and more interesting character and little Fitzwilliam Darcy was extremely cute.
If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice and haven’t seen Death Comes to Pemberley yet, my advice would be to take it with a pinch of salt, and a box of chocolates to make you feel better!
What did you make of Death Comes to Pemberley? Was it the icing on your Christmas cake or the bad joke in your cracker?