The Portraits of Pemberley — playlist

Elizabeth Gilliland Rands
5 min readJun 20, 2023

It’s all about those Austen-crime vibes

The Portraits of Pemberley by Elizabeth Gilliland

Every writer has a different process, but if there’s one universal truth to being an author, I would be willing to guess that it’s that a writer putting together a book must be in want of a great playlist to put them in the mood. Here’s the music that helped inspire and shape The Portraits of Pemberley as I was writing it. I’ll do my best to explain each song and the inspiration it provided while not being too vague or too spoiler-y. :) Feel free to listen along here!

  1. “Vigilante Shit” by Taylor Swift

This wasn’t planned, but for some reason all of my Austen University books have been majorly inspired by the latest releases from Ms. Swift. “Look What You Made Me Do” was the anthem of What Happened on Box Hill, and “Vigilante Shit” has become the anthem for Portraits of Pemberley. I love the angry, anarchic energy of this song — because quite a few of our heroines are fed up in this book.

2. “Gone Missing (I Know Who Did It)” from Only Murders in the Building: Season Two by Siddhartha Khosla

Only Murders in the Building is basically the combo of humor and mystery that I am to achieve with these books, so the show and its soundtrack have been a huge inspiration to me and something I often turn to when I’m writing to put me in the mystery mood.

3. “Fuck You” by Lily Allen

Lizzy Bennet is dealing with a lot in this book, including interacting with professors and administrators who are trying to sabotauge her education. While this song was reportedly written about George W., I figure it’s a more general fight-the-patriarchy type of anthem that Lizzy might appreciate.

4. “Therefore I Am” by Billie Eilish

Another great attitude song to help put me in the mindset of some of our heroines. Austen has sometimes garnered a reputation for being a genteel, polite writer, but her satire is sharp and scathing, and I wanted to channel some of that spirit.

5. “Pianississimo” from The White Lotus: Season Two by Cristobal Tapia De Veer

The White Lotus is another show that really had hold of my imagination as I was writing this novel. While I can’t say that I knowingly borrowed anything directly from the show, I love the chaotic energy and wild side characters and hopefully brought some of that same spirit into The Portraits of Pemberley.

6. “Sweet but Psycho” by Ava Max

Another nod to Austen’s deceptively sweet and genteel persona, carrying over to some of her characters. I’m sorry, but anyone who reads Elinor Dashwood as anything but a righteous goddess of vengeance is reading Sense and Sensibility wrong. (Go back and revisit some of those scenes between her and Lucy Steele. I’ll wait.)

7. “Again” by Noah Cyrus and XXXTENTACION

This song starts out with a haunting reprimand about mistakes and regrets, and this novel is full of some bad choices and their consequences. Without spoiling anything too much, I’ll leave it there.

8. “New Rules” by Dua Lipa

An oldie but a goodie, this is the anthem for all women who’ve been burned by their romantic partners. Again, without too many spoilers, let’s just say that there are some love connections that go very wrong in this book.

9. “Clues” from The White Lotus: Season Two by Cristobal Tapia De Veer

Another entry from The White Lotus: Season Two that captures the mystery and whimsy I was trying to convey. (Go watch it now if you haven’t! Wouldn’t Jennifer Coolidge make a fantastic Mrs. Palmer?)

10. “GOOD” by Erin McCarley

This song hints at some complicated chemistry between two people who are into each other. No spoilers, so I’ll leave it there.

11. “Heaven” by Julia Michaels

“Bad boys bring heaven to you…” We all know Austen seems to have a little bit of a soft spot for bad boys, even as she warns against them, so this is a nod to some very bad boys who show up in this novel.

12. “Old School” by Urban Cone

Not all the boys are bad, though, and we do have some good old-fashioned gentlemen in this novel who want to do right by their partners. Let’s see if my version matches up with Austen’s, shall we?

13. “Boys Will Be Boys” by Dua Lipa

Uh-oh, those bad boys seem to be up to no good again. The Portraits of Pemberley has an interesting reveal about what some of those not-so-nice-guys have been up to, and the consequences (or lack thereof) that Dua Lipa hints at in this song.

14. “Mabel’s Dream (Flipping the Piece)” from Only Murders in the Building: Season Two by Siddhartha Khosla

Back to Only Murders in the Building again. I cannot stress how great this scores is for inspiring the writing of mysteries, and this song is all about putting the puzzle pieces together. Hopefully that means our heroines are having some similar breakthroughs in solving the mystery…?

15. “Karma” by MARINA

There are some people who do some not so very nice things in this book, and Marina hints at what should happen to these people. Whether or not they’ll get their comeuppance, we’ll have to wait and see.

16. “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo

The scorned woman anthem. I’m starting to get a little worried about these heroines…

17. “That Bitch” by Bea Miller

…Don’t worry, though, they’re pretty tough. I have a feeling they’ll be able to hold their own.

18. “Oh No (I Think I’m In Love)” by Blossoms

Despite all these bad dudes, it seems like someone’s relationship is progressing pretty nicely? Love has a way of popping up at the most inconvenient times.

19. “Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez

Someone seems to be struggling with her feelings. Gee, I hope this all turns out okay.

20. “The Great War” by Taylor Swift

We begin with Taylor, and we end with Taylor. I will let the Swifties interpret from the lyrics how this whole novel turns out. There does seem to be reference to an important letter in this song. I wonder if that has any meaning to the Pride and Prejudice fans…?


I know, some of that was pretty vague, but hopefully it gave a little taste into what you can expect from the novel. I’d love to hear what you think of the song choices. Come listen along here, or better yet, come read along here!



Elizabeth Gilliland Rands

Writer, Mom, Wife, English Instructor, Dr., Chocoholic. Co-founder of Bayou Wolf Press and the Detours Ahead podcast: