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The To Be Read Challenge asks readers to read 12 of their favorite books in a year's timeFellow blogger Jess Witkins is participating in the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Roof Beam Reader. The idea of the TBR Pile Challenge is basically to stack up 12 books you’ve always wanted to read, and take a year to read them. I’d have problems with that, in a good way. If a stack of 12 books was in front of me, I couldn’t parcel them out to last a year. I’d end up with hungry, suck-cheeked kids, wearing clothes from last week, a family neglected while I devoured my books.

Speaking of books, I just finished Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. The legendary British mystery author is a longtime favorite of mine, and this book is a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, with a murder thrown in for good measure.

Ahem, confession here. Cough…Squirm…Up until a few months ago, I couldn’t stand Pride and Prejudice. I tried to read it, I really did. But I couldn’t hack it and returned the book to the library, satisfied when I heard its echoing thump in the return bin. Why, you ask, couldn’t I hack it?

Marry the girl, already!! I thought when Darcy agonized over Elizabeth. Or don’t!! Either way, get off the fence and DO something, man! (And don’t even get me started on Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth’s overbearing, obnoxious mother. Yikes!)

Then my daughter had to read Pride and Prejudice for her high school English class, and asked for help deciphering the plot. Egads, I thought, feeling like I’d rather endure a root canal than a repeat of Mrs. Bennet trying to cajole and wheedle yet another soldier into marrying one of her daughters.

We ended up borrowing the PBS version of P&P from our neighbors. Honestly, I was prepared for my eyes to cross and glaze over, but you know what? I got hooked. Absolutely, totally hooked. What would Darcy do next? Why didn’t Elizabeth become putty in his wealthy hands? Questions swirled around in my head. 506 minutes on two discs? Not a problem for us! Full steam ahead, my daughter and I plowed through the miniseries in record time. And loved it.

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth

I have many of P.D. James’s books in my collection, and when I saw Death Comes to Pemberley at the library, I snatched it up. Basically, Darcy (bless his heart, he finally married Elizabeth like we knew he would…) and Elizabeth are preparing for their annual autumn ball when Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, arrives at Pemberley, shrieking and sobbing because she thinks her husband has been murdered. He hasn’t, but it’s 1803, so there’s no NCIS or DNA to get Wickham off the hook. Wickham goes to trial, and Darcy worries that the men of the town have been so stirred up by events that an impartial jury is impossible. The lawyer he’s hired, Henry Alveston, discusses the juror situation with Darcy, saying things are so serious that questions regarding fairness, jurors who might be nobbled, and judges who could be bribed by the opposition to turn against Wickham make things dire. (p. 144)

Nobbled??  I put the book down for a minute. Nobbled? I never heard that word before, so I looked it up. Nobbled means “to convince by fraudulent methods; misrepresent or lie to,” or even “to drug or disable a race horse to prevent its winning a race.”

I’m also a big horse racing fan, and never miss the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, (this Saturday, people!) or the Belmont Stakes if I can help it, so it was fun to learn that nobble can be applied in several different circumstances.

California Chrome

California Chrome

So, since confession is good for the soul, I’m admitting that I might be willing to dig into Mansfield Park or Sense and Sensibility…just so long as I can find some cool words to share here.

…and no Mrs. Bennet to nobble things up…

Happy reading to anyone doing the 2014 TBR Challenge! And go California Chrome in this Saturday’s Preakness!