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Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography (1999)

de P. D. James

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427543,674 (3.91)13
In 1997, P. D. James, the internationally acclaimed author of mysteries, turned seventy-seven. Taking to heart Dr. Johnson's advice that at seventy-seven it is "time to be in earnest," she decided to undertake a book unlike any she had written before: a personal memoir in the form of a diary. This enchanting and highly original volume is the result. Structured as the diary of a single year, it roams back and forth through time, illuminating James's extraordinary, sometimes painful and sometimes joyful life. Here, interwoven with reflections on her writing career and the craft of crime novels, are vivid accounts of episodes in her own past--of school days in 1920s and 1930s Cambridge . . . of the war and the tragedy of her husband's madness . . . of her determined struggle to support a family alone. She tells about the birth of her second daughter in the midst of a German buzz-bomb attack; about becoming a civil servant (and laying the groundwork for her writing career by working in the criminal justice system); about her years of public service on such bodies as the Arts Council and the BBC's Board of Governors, culminating in entry to the House of Lords. Along the way, with warmth and authority, she offers views on everything from author tours to the problems of television adaptations, from book reviewing to her obsession with Jane Austen.… (més)
Afegit fa poc perbiblioteca privada, jenniferw88, Daniel_Kirk, StellaKoritsas, dajashby, DanaRail, ponnypoppy

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» Mira també 13 mencions

Es mostren totes 5
The book is a diary for one year, beginning at age 77. I enjoyed her Prologue, but I'm just not that interested in her life, and especially not in the details of one year, at this point. I do think I might like to try some of her fiction.
  ajlewis2 | Feb 24, 2016 |
A year (1997) in the life of P.D. James. Much of it is mundane to the point of tedium (I really could not bring myself to care about her various publicity tours and appearances), but when James ranges into history, reminiscence, and public policy she is fascinating. Her remarks on the institutional treatment of mental illness and "its replacement by community care, which could be described more accurately as the absence of care..." are particularly pertinent and valuable. Fortunately the book is provided with an index to make it possible to find what she had to say about real-life crime, or the Book of Common Prayer, or giving birth during the bombing of London during the second World War (the last topic being under "London, World War II" rather than "birth". "bombing", or "blitz"). ( )
  muumi | Nov 7, 2015 |
An original format - explicitly a diary of a year in P.D. James's life in her 70's. But she takes this starting off point to range widely, to reveal parts of her life, and to digress on matters that interest her.

Her energy and enthusiasm is awe-inspiring, for any age. A bright, positive, intelligent thinker, it's not surprising Phyllis is so much in demand for book-signings and talks.

James was less revealing about being married to someone with a mental illness. In part I admired her - especially in these 'tell-all times' for her reticence, but then she was dismayed by society's misunderstanding - and so surely this should have been a wonderful opportunity to open the door to reveal what it's like to be connected to someone with mental problems and how society could impact positively.

Small gripe, this was a wonderful, uplifting book, by a very special woman. ( )
  LARA335 | Jan 9, 2013 |
P.D. James is every bit as good at writing non-fiction as she is at fiction. Somehow straightforward, modest facts add up to a very impressive life. As Mr. Butler would say, "What a woman." ( )
  Gillian-D | Jun 22, 2010 |
It's good to hear straight from the author, without it being filtered through a character. I only wish Baroness James had given us more than a year's worth here. ( )
  horacewimsey | Jan 5, 2010 |
Es mostren totes 5
This book is no septuagenarian's exercise in nostalgia. James's deep faith in traditional institutions is coupled with searing experience of the ugliness of life. The evidence dribbles out. Childhood in beautiful Shropshire and Cambridge was clouded by her parents' unhappy marriage, her mother's compulsory detention in a mental institution and her father's parsimony. Schooling ended when she was 16, followed by a dull job in the British tax service. A happy marriage when she was 21 was shattered when her husband, a doctor, returned from World War II insane. Life thereafter divided between supporting two daughters and Sunday visits to the asylum. There was no thought of remarriage after his death (in 1964) because she never found anyone else she wanted to marry. Now she lives alone with her cat and fears of Alzheimer's disease.
 
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Epígraf
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At seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest.
- Samuel Johnson
Dedicatòria
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To the memory of my Parents

Sidney Victor James
1895-1979
Dorothy May James
1893-1966

remembered with gratitude and love.
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A diary, if intended for publication (and how many written by a novelist are not?), is the most egotistical form of writing.
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Has anyone discovered a really satisfactory way of reading comfortably in bed? For some of us this is virtually our only free time except when on holiday. Reading is so important, so necessary to the nourishment of mind and spirit that I feel that it should be as seriously ceremonial as a church service. Ideally we need a comfortable chair with back and arm support and good, well-directed light, a rest for the book if it is too heavy to hold comfortably, a small table with our favourite drink to hand, and silence and solitude. It is an ideal that few of us are able to obtain.
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(Clica-hi per mostrar-ho. Compte: pot anticipar-te quin és el desenllaç de l'obra.)
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

In 1997, P. D. James, the internationally acclaimed author of mysteries, turned seventy-seven. Taking to heart Dr. Johnson's advice that at seventy-seven it is "time to be in earnest," she decided to undertake a book unlike any she had written before: a personal memoir in the form of a diary. This enchanting and highly original volume is the result. Structured as the diary of a single year, it roams back and forth through time, illuminating James's extraordinary, sometimes painful and sometimes joyful life. Here, interwoven with reflections on her writing career and the craft of crime novels, are vivid accounts of episodes in her own past--of school days in 1920s and 1930s Cambridge . . . of the war and the tragedy of her husband's madness . . . of her determined struggle to support a family alone. She tells about the birth of her second daughter in the midst of a German buzz-bomb attack; about becoming a civil servant (and laying the groundwork for her writing career by working in the criminal justice system); about her years of public service on such bodies as the Arts Council and the BBC's Board of Governors, culminating in entry to the House of Lords. Along the way, with warmth and authority, she offers views on everything from author tours to the problems of television adaptations, from book reviewing to her obsession with Jane Austen.

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