Tuesday, 1 November 2011


In this video interview, recorded at the author's home in October 2011, P. D. James discusses her new novel, 'Death Comes to Pemberley', and her appreciation of the writer who inspired it, Jane Austen . Listen carefully to her presentation of the book and to her interesting points about "writing an Austen sequel". What do you think is a modern writer's most difficult task in writing a sequel, and especially, a sequel to Austen's most widely popular novel, Pride and Prejudice?

1.Listen to the interview
2.answer the question above in your comment
3.add your e-mail address

... and get a chance to win a copy of  P.D. James's Austen mystery, "Death Comes to Pemberley", granted to My Jane Austen Book Club by her UK publisher Faber & Faber. This giveaway is open internationally and ends on November 9th.

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the Pemberley nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live within seventeen miles, the ordered and secure life of Pemberley seems unassailable, and Elizabeth’s happiness in her marriage is complete. But their peace is threatened and old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled on the eve of the annual Autumn Ball. The Darcys and their guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland, and as it pulls up, Lydia Wickham, an uninvited guest, tumbles out, screaming that her husband has been murdered.

"Death Comes to Pemberley" -  Listen to An Extract Read by P. D.  James (Click HERE)


Phoebe's Sisters said...

Thank you for the interview! I greatly enjoyed it. The book sounds just what I'd love to read! Jane Austen + detective is just what I'd wish for.

I think that the most difficult thing for a modern writer would be to conform to Jane Austen's style of narration, her ever-present irony and the language (both lively and somber) that she uses. Not to mention, all those little things that made a part of her world and time and that we can never completely understand.


Anonymous said...

I have never read a novel by P.D. James, but I was planning to, having seen her recently on TV talking about the important books in her life and also hearing her speak about another favourite author of mine, Barbara Pym. This P&P sequel will definitely be my first P.D. James book.
I think that the most difficult task in writing a good sequel would be to stay true to the language, style, atmosphere and characters of the original novel, while creating a really new, interesting, well written story. In this case, maybe to be Jane Austen and yourself at the same time. Very difficult indeed!

Jolie Beaumont said...

Great interview! Thanks so much for posting.

As someone who writes Regency mysteries, I do agree with several of the points that P.D. James makes. A person's era and environment does have a great impact on their character and how they view themselves, others, and the world. Therefore, the greatest challenge is to construct a story that makes sense for the Regency era and still engages the hearts of readers from our own times.

Since I also love to do lots of research about the settings I've chosen for my books, I was intrigued by the comment P.D. James made about the two woodlands at Pemberley - how only one would be suitable for a murder. One would have to know something about the workings of a Regency great house - at what hours the servants are about, what can be seen from the upper windows, etc. - to know that the closer woodland wouldn't be a plausible setting for a murder, unless it was an unplanned act of passion. For me, as a reader, those sorts of details add immensely to my enjoyment and make me feel that the author knows what they're talking about.

katayoun said...

i'd think also maitaining the style especially the style of a much loved author is very important. maintainig the essence of jane' s writing and also have an interesting story not just retell p&p

Unknown said...

I have read PD James before so I was so excited to see that she has written a P&P murder mystery sequel.

As to what I think is important in a sequel, I already heard my thoughts covered by the interview and other commentators (great minds think alike?).

I think the original author's voice, characters, and time period must mesh. New characters and situations can be used, but should translate well in the original story.

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

Monica Fairview said...

I'd love to read PD Janes'P&P murder mystery. Loved the extract read by PD James.

I agree with what Sophia and katayoun said -- keeping the spirit of Jane Austen while at the same time doing something innovative is the trick -- not at all easy to do.

Erica McFarland said...

Loved the interview!

I believe it especially difficult when taking from anyone else's preestablished characters to get the true essence of them. When I'm creating a character, it's important to me that I can basically feel who they are as a person. Thus the Austen researcher particularly must know everything about what she wrote--how her characters would react in any given situation.

cyn209 said...

thank you for the interview share!!!!

to me, the most difficult task for a modern writer in writing a sequel to Pride & Prejudice is keeping the characters Jane created & established true to Jane's way of thoughts, emotions & essence.........


Heather M. said...

Thanks for posting this interview with P.D. James! I've been a big fan of her work for a long time, so I'm very excited to see her combine her talent for detective storytelling with the Austen characters we all know and love. And that's what I think is the challenge in writing any sequel to a well known novel like P&P. We all love Darcy and Elizabeth, and have our own vision of the finer details of their character and what their future together might be like. A modern writer's greatest challenge is trying to create their own story, while also trying to please thousands of readers who already have their own notions of how the story should end and how the characters should act.

Literary Chanteuse said...

I think it is capturing her characters in the way she did. Of course each author has their own take and creative ideas but the essential character that has made them memorable would be hard to capture. I enjoyed the interview! Thank you for the giveaway!


Ann Gray said...

This is a book I have to read.
I have to agree with Ms James when she says that the most difficult task facing a modern author who writes a sequel to something like Ms Austen's work is to remain true to the style of the original. She says that getting the language correct and in particular the spoken word is very important and I would say essential. I feel sure Ms James will do just that and deliver a masterful sequal. I can't wait to find out.

Ann Gray said...

May I appologise for the spelling mistake in my entry above and leave my e.mail address too (gray.air@btinternet.com)- now is that everything? and am I still in with a chance?

Maria Grazia said...

Of course Ann. You are in. Thanks for taking part and ... Good luck!

Anonymous said...

As a long-time fan of Ms James's, I absolutely can't miss this novel - although I'm a bit worried about it, having in mind the flop of McCullough's 'Mary Bennet' :-/

Hope Ms James will stay true to the style and the language of the original, as she promises us in the interview.
I'm really curious, so please count me in.
xx K/V

MonicaP said...

I've not yet read a P.D. James novel but this P&P mystery sounds like something I will love! I pretty much agree with the other commenters, that it would be challenging to stay true to Austen while making it original enough to please an audience who already have in their mind notions of how the characters "should" be.


lunarossa said...

Very Interesting, MG. To tell you the truth, I haven't read any JA's sequel that have satisfied me up to now. Although most authors have tried to keep true to the language and ambience of JA's times, there always seems to be something missing, something that clearly shouts "This is not Jane Austen!". Being a fan of detective stories and murder mysteries, I really hope that P.D.James has succeded where other authors have failed. That is to create a novel both in line with JA's style and innovative at the same time. Ciao. A.x

Lúthien84 said...

I have never read a book by P.D. James so if this might be the first novel I read. A very informative interview I would say.

In my opinion, I agree with Ms James and say the use of language in JA's times is quite different from ours. So any sequel writers need to pick up the nuances and style of JA's writing to convince readers that Jane would approve had it been written in her age.

And thanks to Maria and Faber & Faber for the opportunity to win this book.


Gigi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gigi said...

In the time that Jane Austen live, the language was different, the moods, the cloths, the forms of expressing herself were in some way censored, so in order for making a sequel in this time the author must not lose the essence of that era, but they can incorporate some twist to the story making it wonderful and also enjoyable! Please count me in! Thank you so much for the giveaway! I have never read a novel by P.D. James and I would love to!


Cat Winchester said...

I think the hardest thing in writing a sequel to someone as lauded as Austen is living up to her reputation.

I don't think that the language she used should necessarily be used today because so much had changed, the meaning of phrases lost and the meanings of many words slightly altered.

You should remember that your audience may not have done the same extensive research into that time period that you have and may be unfamiliar with certain concepts and terms.

However, the hardest thing is living up to a dead woman's reputation. She is lauded as one of the greatest writers of all time and even poor PD James has come in for some criticism that her novel is not as fast paces as Austen's. If even PD James cannot match her in reviewers eyes, who else stands a chance?

Were she still alive, Austen herself might have given this book her seal of approval, but alas we can never know and so are left with people who hold Austen in the highest esteem judging all subsequent works. That's rather an unfair (not to mention daunting) starting point for anyone planning a sequel.

Thecw at hotmail dot co dot uk

Jenny Allworthy said...

Well, it is truly Jane Austen's mastery of the English language that we all love and that would be so difficult to reproduce.

I even have trouble with "Talk like Jane Austen Day". I end up sounding like Yoda from Star Wars!

Sounds like a great book. Can't think of anyone better to murder than Wickham!