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Time to Be in Earnest

A Fragment of Autobiography
Narrated by: Patience Tomlinson
Length: 13 hrs and 1 min
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Summary

P. D. James' extraordinary memoir of her early life and time starting out as a novelist as well as diaries recording her in old age.

In this intriguing and very personal book, part diary, part memoir, P. D. James considers the twelve months of her life between her seventy-seventh and seventy-eighth birthdays and looks back on her earlier life.

With all her familiar skills as a writer, she recalls what it was like to be a schoolgirl in the 1920s and 1930s in Cambridge and then giving birth to her second daughter during the worst of the Doodlebug bombardment in London during the war. It follows her work, starting out as an administrator in the National Health Service, then on to the Home Office in the forensic and criminal justice departments. She later served as a governor of the BBC, was an influential member of the British Council, served on the Arts Council and tin he Society of Authors, and eventually entered the House of Lords.

Along the way this diary and personal memoir deals with her burgeoning reputation as a novelist, starting with Cover Her Face in 1962, and with the craft of the classical detective story. She also details the writing of one of her most intriguing and carefully researched books, A Certain Justice.

This wonderful memoir will enthral aficionados of detective fiction, and will also appeal to anyone who lived through those turbulent years of the twentieth century.

©2015 P. D. James (P)2015 Faber & Faber ltd.

Critic reviews

"She has served up a feast of a book." (Penelope Lively)
"A wonderful read and as such will give pleasure to all P. D. James fans." (Antonia Fraser, Mail on Sunday)
"A wonderfully vivid evocation of a lower-middle-class childhood of oil lamps and gas mantles, water heated up on a coke boiler for the weekly bath, liberty bodices, prickly combinations, a father severely remote from his three children and a long-suffering mother." (Francis King, The Oldie)
"Like all the best diaries hers allows the reader to share in the small pleasures and domestic dramas of her days." (Sunday Telegraph)

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Will appeal to those who enjoy the author's books

I've read/listened to all the author's books several times and always enjoy her fine writing and gripping stories, so was interested to learn more about the woman who could conjure up so many different intricately woven plots. As she says at the beginning of the present book this is not a conventional autobiography nor the recounting of sequential diary entries, but a snapshot of what she was doing on some of the days during one year in the late 1970s mixed with memories from her long life. I thought this a successful way to get a picture of her as a person and an insight into her often strong opinions. If her commitments during that one year are anything to go by, she must have had a strong constitution to have undertaken so many speaking and book-signing events coupled with all the hassle of traveling to the venues, some as far-fling as Japan and found time to research and write her books. I'm left with a greater admiration for this overly modest. but remarkable woman who had a far from easy early life, bore the sadness of her husband's chronic illness and early death, but who blossomed in later life. A book that I believe will be enjoyed by admirers of her novels.
The narrator is an excellent choice as I felt that PD James was speaking to me.

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Wonderful!

Completely absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable. What an incredibly busy and interesting life PD James led. I found Patience Tomlinson’s narration perfect. So often with audio books the narrator can take away the pleasure of the written word, this time it enhanced it and I could almost see PD James speaking the words. I shall listen to this once more in the future and am sure enjoy it all over again!