Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography
P. D. James
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On the day she turned seventy-seven, internationally acclaimed mystery writer P. D. James embarked on an endeavor unlike any other in her distinguished career: she decided to write a personal memoir in the form of a diary. Over the course of a year she set down not only the events and impressions of her extraordinarily active life, but also the memories, joys, discoveries, and crises of a lifetime. This enchantingly original volume is the result.
Time to Be in Earnest offers an intimate portrait of one of most accomplished women of our time. Here are vivid, revealing accounts of her school days in Cambridge in the 1920s and '30s, her happy marriage and the tragedy of her husband's mental illness, and the thrill of publishing her first novel, Cover Her Face, in 1962. As she recounts the decades of her exceptional life, James holds forth with wit and candor on such diverse subjects as the evolution of the detective novel, her deep love of the English countryside, her views of author tours and television adaptations, and her life-long obsession with Jane Austen. Wise and frank, engaging and graceful, this "fragment of autobiography" will delight and surprise P. D. James's admirers the world over.
where every yard walked reveals something fresh of beauty, interest or history, where one glances up to see a Velázquez, a Rubens, a Lawrence, a Frans Hals, a Van Dyck. Some of the Duke’s purchases of modern art were resting against the wall, obviously awaiting their right place. It was interesting to see that even the owners of great houses face the problems of we humbler mortals, not knowing what to do with recent acquisitions. I could never get used to living in a house with 175 rooms, 359
particularly Penny Downie, who plays Venetia Aldridge. It was possible not only to hear what the actors were saying, but to know who the characters were. Admittedly, as author of the book, I had a head start in this, but I get increasingly tired of TV series when one has to wait twenty minutes to sort out the characters and their relationships to each other. If tonight’s standard is maintained, this should be a successful adaptation. Today is Jane’s birthday. We don’t celebrate birthdays with
Churchill’s favour, Mr. Knightley says crossly, “He is a person I never think of from one month’s end to another,” a somewhat surprising assertion since he has obviously been giving a great deal of thought to Mr. Churchill’s defects of character and behaviour and has spent the last half-hour vigorously arguing about him. And when Frank Churchill does at last arrive—a day early, which is a little inconsiderate of him bearing in mind Mrs. Weston’s desire to have everything at Randalls perfect for
member of the PPU we were never indoctrinated with pacifism or with any other opinion. She saw her job as teaching, not as proselytizing, and yet I am in no doubt of the values—liberal, Christian, scholarly—by which she lived. We were taught, as much by example as precept, to respect our minds and to use them; to examine the evidence before rushing in with our opinions; to distinguish between fact and theory; to see history through the eyes of the poor and vanquished, not merely those of the
War, of air raids, the threat of invasion, difficult and congested travel, the blackout and inadequate or nonexistent domestic help. Nevertheless, they were years of high creativity. She wrote plays, two religious dramas including the notorious radio drama The Man Born to Be King (the first time an actor had impersonated Christ on the radio), and two theological works as well as articles and hundreds of letters, most in her own hand. The expense of time and effort must have been considerable,