Death Comes to Pemberly

Starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth, Matthew Goode as Wickham, and Jenna Coleman as Lydia.

Starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth, Matthew Goode as Wickham, and Jenna Coleman as Lydia.

Pride and Prejudice adaptations are a dime a dozen. There’s the 6 hour A & E version, the Kiera Knightley one, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, etc., etc. The never ending lists of Jane Austen adaptations either leave fans utterly joyous or quite done with it all. But slightly different than the adaptations of the novels, are the adaptations like Death Comes to Pemberly.

Based on the book by P.D. James, the BBC show Death Comes to Pemberly picks up Elizabeth and Darcy’s story after they have been married for some years. They have a young son, are happily married, and throwing a ball at Pemberly. Things get interesting pretty quickly, though, when someone is murdered on Pemberly property. When George Wickham becomes the prime suspect, many of the beloved Austen characters gather together as they try to unravel exactly what happened the night of the murder.

The purist Jane Austen fans out there will find something they don’t like about the interpretation of the characters, but I think everyone else should enjoy this short series. The characters are true to their nature in the original book, and their actions follow suit. It’s fun to see the characters in new circumstances—relationships are tested, secrets are uncovered. All three episodes are very engaging, the produces timing the climaxes and plot twists very well.

Matthew Rhys (right) and James Norton (left)

Matthew Rhys (right) and James Norton (left)

Personally, I like how all of the characters are represented. I think it’s true to the book, and the plot and events of the story seem true as well. The series is only three episodes, and I kind of wish there were more. It was so interesting to see Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship further down the road. They’re parents, no longer newlyweds, and have grown but also remain who they are. Darcy is loyal, reserved, but caring. Elizabeth is quick-witted and able to see things other people often miss. It was also fun to see some of Austen’s more lively characters—Mrs. Bennet and Lydia for example. Jane and Mr. Bennet also make appearances, and the new characters are interesting as well.

I think Death Comes to Pemberly is a good, fun reflection on Pride and Prejudice. I’m always curious to see what happens to characters after they achieve their “happily ever after”. After all, the story isn’t over at the wedding, but rather just beginning. Characters face new and different challenges are the author has written “the end”, and it’s fun to explore these times. I would love to see more adaptations like this, based on classic novels but pushed forward a few years passed the ending of the book. Hopefully the BBC will have more to offer soon!




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