Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment Of Autobiography

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Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment Of Autobiography

by P.d. James

Random House Publishing Group | February 27, 2001 | Trade Paperback

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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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 304 pages, 8.27 × 5.5 × 0.7 in

Published: February 27, 2001

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345442121

ISBN - 13: 9780345442123

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– More About This Product –

Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment Of Autobiography

by P.d. James

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 304 pages, 8.27 × 5.5 × 0.7 in

Published: February 27, 2001

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345442121

ISBN - 13: 9780345442123

Read from the Book

Prologue A diary, if intended for publication (and how many written by a novelist are not?), is the most egotistical form of writing. The assumption is inevitably that what the writer thinks, does, sees, eats and drinks on a daily basis is as interesting to others as it is to himself or herself. And what motive could possibly induce people to undertake the tedium of this daily task--for surely at times it must be tedious--not just for one year, which seems formidable enough, but sometimes for a lifetime? As a lover of diaries, I am glad that so many have found time and energy and still do. How much of interest, excitement, information, history and fascinating participation in another''s life would be lost without the diaries of John Evelyn, Samuel Pepys, Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh, Fanny Burney and Francis Kilvert. Even the diary of a fictional Victorian, Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest, "simply a very young girl''s record of her own thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication," would have its appeal. I have never up until now kept a diary, largely because of indolence. During my career as a bureaucrat, a working day spent mainly in drafting reports or speeches and writing letters or minutes left little incentive for further writing, particularly the recording of trivia. And any writing, if it is worth doing, requires care, and I have preferred to spend that care on my fiction. My motive now is to record just one year that oth
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From the Publisher

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.

From the Jacket

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.

About the Author

P.D. James is the author of 14 previous books, many of which have been adapted for television. She is the recipient of many honours, including the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for Lifetime Achievement and 1999 Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. She lives in London, England.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"Deeply moving . . . . Page after page recalls a vanished world."- The New York Times Book Review

"A cornucopia of discernment, judgment, and wisdom." -San Francisco Chronicle

"James neither overintellectualizes nor sentimentalizes. . . . Writing about commonplace events, [she] gives them weight and substance and so confirms their reality, investing them with a radiance that illuminates this fragment of autobiography." -The Washington Post
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