There’s been a steady stream of Jane Austen sequels, movie adaptations and TV miniseries—even zombies have lumbered in—and they keep coming. Some are terrific, others terrifically awful. But now Austenistas can rejoice: P.D. James, the much-lauded mistress of the eloquently executed mystery, has slipped into Austen’s aura with such perfection that you’ll be sure she’s either a faultless time traveler or champion channeler. Death Comes to Pemberley is an excellent period mystery, replete with all manner of mayhem, and a most welcome way to revisit Elizabeth and Darcy, now happily married and delighting in their two children, as well as many other characters from Pride and Prejudice. James, steeped in Austenian prose, conjures them up and Rosalyn Landor, with her honeyed, elegant English accent, gives them voice. Ms. Austen would surely have approved of the literary felicity produced by this exemplary combo.
IN HARM’S WAY
Kristin Hannah’s Home Front, read with fine emotional nuance by Maggi-Meg Reed, is the kind of novel that grabs your heart as it draws you in. Nested in this love story and portrait of a family are some very big issues: duty, honor, what we owe our country, what our country owes us and what we owe our loved ones. Hannah looks at the choices we make and the drastic changes they can bring as she examines the impact of war on those who serve and those who wait at home. Jolene, a super-competent mother, wife and Black Hawk helicopter pilot, had always hidden her inner demons, making herself choose “happiness.” But when she returns from her deployment to Iraq, wounded in body and soul, plagued with guilt and PTSD, she’s no longer able to be all that she can be. What might have been a contemporary take on “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” becomes an intense, intimate look at what happened to this American family and to the love that bound Jolene and her husband and protected their precious children. Keep the Kleenex close, and breathe through the lumps in your throat.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
American Dervish is Ayad Akhtar’s extraordinary debut novel and his extraordinary debut as an audio narrator. Hayat Shah, the only son of well-to-do, non-observant Pakistani parents living in Milwaukee in the 1980s, is on the brink of adolescence when his mother’s best friend moves in with them. Mina, beautiful and brilliant, a fervent but liberal Muslim, awakens Hayat’s intellectual interest in the Koran and religious certainty, without realizing that she’s the object of his first, fierce feelings of pubescent lust—and without Hayat understanding the consequences of childish spite (think Atonement). As Hayat’s coming-of-age struggles get snarled in Mina’s romance with his father’s best friend, a Jewish doctor, they all get caught up in a stew of bigotry and belief, the complex contradictions of assimilation and ethnic identity, heritage and heartbreak.
British crime staple James shifts gears with her latest novel, a sequel of sorts to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is six years after that novel's conclusion, and Darcy and Elizabeth find their tranquil lives unsettled by a murder involving Elizabeth's sister and brother-in-law. Regular James fans may be disappointed that the mystery here is lackluster and not very interesting, but her descriptive powers are as sharp as ever. VERDICT Narrator Rosalyn Landor brings the period to life admirably but is an odd choice considering that the majority of dialog is spoken by the male characters. Of interest to James and Austen fans. ["Nonrabid fans of [Austen and James] will find enjoyment in this heartfelt...valentine from the one writer to the other," read the review of the New York Times best-selling Knopf hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 12/9/11.--Ed.]--Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence[Page 51]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
James's latest mystery is set in 1803 and picks up where Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice left off: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are married and have twin boys. The family lives at Pemberley, an elegant old mansion where they often entertain people of consequence and hold lavish balls. But a murder in the woods on the property interferes with their otherwise idyllic lives and shrouds Pemberley in mystery and fear. Rosalyn Landor turns in an excellent performance, with well-paced narration that captures the posh atmosphere of James's (and Austen's) world. Landor also creates unique voices for the books many characters, modulating her voice for males and lending working-class dialect to servants. Highly recommended for fans of both Austen and James. A Knopf hardcover. (Dec.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC