Literature: Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes To Pemberley is a thriller written by Phyllis Dorothy James. It is also a non-official sequel to Pride and Prejudice, which treats themes such as justice in the 19th century and misogyny on a rather interesting way.

Six years after Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley married, Elizabeth enjoys her bliss, organizes the ball her mother-in-law created so long ago and makes sure everything will be perfect when Lydia, her younger sister, arrives panicked at Pemberley, and spoils everything.

Well, it isn't really her fault, but she heard gunshot in the woods where her husband and his friend were wandering and she is understandably worried. A rescue expedition organized by Mr. Darcy reassures everyone on the state of her husband. He was simply found drunk, cradling his friend's corpse...

In the meantime, Georgiana enjoys a Betty and Veronica love triangle, Fitzwilliam Darcy works on his Guilt Complex and Elizabeth chronicles how so many characters Took a Level in Jerkass between the events of the two books, making them all suspects.

Of course, it could still get worse. Lady Catherine de Bourgh could decide to meddle in this, or Mr Collins to write a letter... Then, the Godzilla Threshold would certainly be hit.

Adapted into a 2013 BBC television film starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy and Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth.


Tropes present in this work:

  • Acquitted Too Late: Averted. Lizzie is told she may be too late even if she does get through the dangers of traveling to Derby alive at night, but thanks to a guide she defies all odds and delivers a written confession that the now-deceased Will killed Captain Denny accidentally, having mistaken him for Louise's rapist, on time for the very judge who had earlier condemned George to the gallows to now order that George be taken down at the last second. Immediately after the rope is removed from his neck, and as he's taken down from the gallows, George watches the other condemned men suffer the very fate from which he had just been spared.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Averted with the characters in the book, who only get Hidden Depths. Played hilariously straight in-universe, with Meryton inhabitants considering Mrs. Bennet as a Diabolical Mastermind, Mr. Darcy as a complete Jerkass, and both Lizzie and Jane as one big Gold Digger family, the first gaining a reputation of Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. A tenant from an inn in Meryton sees Lydia as a Plucky Girl who is adept at Brutal Honesty.
  • And Starring: In the TV version: "With Penelope Keith as Lady Catherine de Bourgh"
  • Babies Ever After: For Lizzie and Darcy at the end.
  • Betty and Veronica: Georgiana had one of these triangles with Colonel Fitzwilliam (older, known since long ago, and conservative) and Henry Alveston (young, known since a short time ago, much more progressive) .
  • Crisis Crossover: George Wickham worked for Sir Walter Eliot, and while Sir Walter flirted with his Lydia, he flirted with Sir Walter's daughter Elizabeth. Anne Eliot is described as "having made a prosperous and happy marriage", and Sir Walter's financial situation has improved so much that he threw his poor occupants out and returned to the Elliott's family home. Harriet Martin and Emma Woodhouse both wrote to Colonel Fitzwilliam, and finally succeeded in convincing him to let Harriet take George Wickham's son at home.
  • The Cutie: Georgiana and Henry are both this for Elizabeth.
  • Darker and Edgier
  • Defiled Forever: A variation. Though Louisa Bidwell had consensual sex with Wickham, her fiancÚ is reluctant to continue the engagement. He changes his mind
  • Dramatic Irony: Lydia slanders Lizzie near the beginning of the book, claiming that she only married Darcy for his money, while Lydia married for love, completely oblivious to the fact that Wickham had to be bribed by Darcy into not leaving Lydia and ruining her reputation, an act that caused Lizzie to realise she was in love with Darcy.
  • Happily Adopted: Wickham's son at the end of the story.
  • Hidden Depths: In the book, George Wickham had Mommy Issues and was a loving brother to his illegitimate half-sister, though he remained unfaithful and jerkish as ever. Mr. Darcy had a generous but proud mother, Lydia became a loving wife (just as in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) but was jealous of her sister Elizabeth for attracting Wickham's interest at first. Colonel Fitzwilliam / Vicount Hartlep had a lot of consideration for class, which caused him to despise people he found beneath him once he became a Viscount.
  • Honor Before Reason: Denny, Wickham's friend.
  • Hysterical Woman: Lydia, understandably.
  • Jerkass: George Wickham, Lydia and, Colonel Fitzwilliam are presented as this.
  • Jerkass Fašade: Colonel Fitzwilliam turns out to have one of these.
  • Shipper on Deck: Elizabeth is this for Georgiana/Henry.
  • Skewed Priorities: It is a part of the Deliberate Values Dissonance which gets even more stressed on for the villainous and mean characters.
    • It is hard to say whether Sir Selwyn Hardcastle has this or is ironic.
    • Lydia seems to want to go the ball despite her husband and her friend being lost in the woods, where someone shot something.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Will Bidwell, who doesn't appear much in the story (in person anyway), but turns out to be Captain Denny's killer, having mistaken him for Wickham, who he believed to be his sister's rapist.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Colonel Fitzwilliam's fate is not mentioned in the epilogue.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The entire plot of the book could have been avoided if Wickham had stayed faithful to Lydia.

Alternative Title(s):

Death Comes To Pemberley