Yesterday morning I referred to P.D. James and at the end of the day I read her obituary; she was dead at 94. I met her a while back. As you know, I have written a book about women's diaries ("Reading Between the Lines: The Diaries of Women"). I was still living up north (Muskoka) when her autobiography was published ("Time to be in Earnest"). She wrote it in the form of a diary, taking a calendar year, dating from her birth date, as I remember, and going through day by day, recalling what was memorable about each day: this day ten years ago, this day last year, and so on, thus filling in the important events in her life of historic or emotional significance. Nice format. I loved it and decided I would send her my book about diaries. Then I received a pitch for a trip on the QE2, one -way: a flight to London, and a sail back across the Atlantic to New York. P.D. James was the headliner, giving a talk, participating in a seminar, being available for autographs, etc. I had always wanted to go on the QE2 and this was opportune. I signed on. Her trip (about her 11th gig) was sponsored this time by Levenger's, an online catalogue for readers and writers that I had recently discovered. (Since then it has gone into retail stores, first in Daytona, Fla. then elsewhere, including one in Boston, where I finally visited once or twice when I went to see my daughter.)
Levenger's was very generous with its customers. I got a good deal on the passage; they gave me several hundred dollars' worth of salon treatments and sent me about $500 worth of goodies from their inventory, including a wallet, a passport holder and a couple of travel journals. Plus they had a cocktail party for the star, for the Levenger fans only, and, of course, sponsored her appearances. She also appeared on the upper deck every morning to walk, as I did. So I spoke to her there, after I had written her a note explaining my mission: to have her sign my copy of her autobiography and to give her my book on women's diaries. She did and I did, and I still have her book, of course.
She was a gracious lady, a cool head, and an excellent writer. And I'm a groupie. And I honour her life and her career.