Posted in Book Discussions, Book Review

Death Comes to Pemberley: Book vs. Mini Series

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but this is one of those rare times when the movie is better than the book. To summarize the plot, Elizabeth and Darcy have been married for six years since the end of Pride and Prejudice, have two young sons, and are comfortably living at Pemberley. Elizabeth has seamlessly taken over her role as the lady of the estate, to the point that even the gossips who thought she only married Darcy for the money are begrudgingly agreeing that she’s actually a wonderful person.

But their peaceful life is interrupted (once again) by Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth’s wild-child younger sister. She appears at their front door, hysterical and crying, saying her husband and his closest friend are dead. As the master of the house and the local magistrate, Darcy sets out to investigate. What he finds confirms his fears: he’s once again entangled in another of Wickham’s schemes, one that might cost them both dearly.

Elizabeth Darcy’s Role:

I was disappointed with how P.D. James portrayed Elizabeth in the book. The reason shecharacteristicobserver was so universally liked in Pride and Prejudice was her feisty intelligence and bravery, but she’s reduced to just another housewife in Death Comes to Pemberley. I’ll concede that it’s more historically accurate, but it defeats the whole purpose of Elizabeth Bennett Darcy.



What the book lacks, the mini-series made up for. Elizabeth is the protagonist – she’s the one who pieces together the mystery surrounding Wickham’s life, the one who ultimately saves his life and the one who rescues Pemberley from disgrace.

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy’s Relationship:

While Darcy makes a few offhanded comments about missing and loving his wife, he and Elizabeth have maybe two conversations in the book. As a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I was looking for a cute sequel to their roller-coaster courtship, not a few sweet references here and there.

The mini-series treats the underlying issue of Georgiana’s future more gravely than the book does and this dilemma causes friction between Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth is for one suitor, while Darcy is for the other. There are moments where it’s suggested Darcy regrets their marriage and Elizabeth becomes anxious. The book, on the other hand, is more laid-back and devil-may-care. Elizabeth and Darcy aren’t very involved; the decision is entirely up to Georgiana.

The book, on the other hand, is more laid-back and devil-may-care. Elizabeth and Darcy aren’t very involved; the decision is entirely up to Georgiana.

Darcy’s Role:

I was also disappointed with Book Darcy. He loses that spark, that gentlemanly mysteriousness that women fell in love with. Darcy is overwhelmed by Wickham’s predicament; he worries constantly, he simpers and mopes, and, to be brutally honest, he’s annoying. Again, it’s more realistic that he lets the legal system do its thing while he watches from the sidelines, but that realism is what made the book slow and dry.

In the mini-series, we see that strangely endearing Darcy temper. He’s a handsome man who walks with confidence but is also not afraid to show his wife and family affection. While Book Darcy lacks personality, Movie Darcy takes Wickham by the neck and demands answers (figuratively speaking).

Final Verdict:

The mini-series is filled with surprises, drama, and Darcy magic, while the book falls short with a dry, monotone narration and laid-back plot.

I seriously recommend the mini-series to anyone, not just Pride and Prejudice fans. It was beautifully filmed and the actors fit into their roles perfectly. The book…not so much. I’ll still include information for anyone interested, but I’m actually really curious about your opinions. Am I being overly critical or do ya’ll agree?

Death Comes to Pemberley:

Author: P.D. James

291 pages

For more information: Publisher Website / Goodreads / Amazon


3 episodes

For more information: IMDb Overview / PBS / BBC Trailer


2 thoughts on “Death Comes to Pemberley: Book vs. Mini Series

  1. I had no idea that Death Comes to Pemberley actually had a miniseries. 😮 You’re right, it’s incredibly rare to enjoy a film/series adaptation over a book so I’m certainly going to give it a try. Not exactly the same era at all, but I’ve been watching North and South and I’ve been enjoying it. Anyway, thanks for the honest review, Megan! 🙂

    1. I liked North and South too. It did a pretty good job of showing the difference between rich and poor. Plus Armitage, of course 😉
      Be sure to let me know what you think after watching it!

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