Just finished it. I went ahead and gave it five stars even though it was somewhere between "really liked it" and "amazing."
There *are* amazing things about it. Not only is it quotable (as I mentioned on first starting it), but some of it is *Austen* quotable. "A family of five unmarried daughters is sure of attracting the sympathetic concern of all their neighbours, particularly where other diversions are few"; "There are few activities so agreeable as spending a friend's money to your own satisfaction and his benefit"; Mary is described as "a compulsive reader but without discrimination or understanding, an assiduous practiser at the pianoforte but devoid of talent, and a frequent deliverer of platitudes which had neither wisdom or wit."
The continuation of the P&P story is also well done. James has clever, amusing ideas about what will happen to Mrs. Bennet after Mr. Bennet dies and what the neighbors really think about the Darcy marriage.
Initially I thought that James' use of characters from other Austen novels was a little too cutesy -- a bit show-offy, even; but it has a lot going for it. If this *is* the Austenverse, those other families are in it somewhere, and not too far from one another. Austen wrote close to home in every sense. And why not give serious Austen lovers an extra treat?
The mystery aspect of the story was handled very well. It felt emotionally as well as historically true. And the last chapter expands so expertly on the early relationship between Darcy and his sister that Austen lovers should read it even if they don't care to tackle the rest of the book.
Can I just add: P.D. James is freakin' *92* years old? For some reason, that makes this book extra cool to me.
---Just got my library copy. I was expecting a well-written, well-researched murder mystery -- it's all I asked. I was interested in what James would do with Austen's characters. I am shocked -- not only by how good this book is, but how smoothly James matches Austen's tone. I'm NOT someone who drools over all things Austen. I don't care about the movies. I don't read the "sequels." I read Austen's books and books about Austen, and that's it. I was talked into reading this book by friends and reviewers, and I had mixed feelings when I opened it. So listen when I say that I'm putting this book on my wish list, because it's so good it's *quotable*.