P. D. James, Observer of Human Nature

I read little crime fiction, but during a recent few days away I had occasion to finish a P. D. James Adam Dalgliesh mystery A Mind to Murder. I was delighted to find in James occasional wry side comments regarding the human and social condition, a few of which seem sharable:

“His Marriage…had been doomed from the start, as any marriage must be when husband and wife have a basic ignorance of each other’s needs coupled with the illusion that they understand each other perfectly.”

“Her house was the centre for a collection of resting actors, one-volume poets, aesthetes posing on the fringe of the ballet world, and writers more anxious to talk about their craft in an atmosphere of sympathetic understanding than to practice it.”

“‘I was also with my brother-in-law who happens to be a bishop. A High Church bishop,’ she added complacently, as if incense and chasuble set a seal on episcopal virtue and veracity.”

“People did not automatically become kind because they had become religious.”

Finding such quips is one of the joys of reading. Unless, of course, the sting is aimed too much in my direction.

“‘I should be relieved if I could produce even an evangelical curate to vouch for me between six-fifteen and seven o’clock yesterday evening.'”

Yes. Even one of those, suspect as they may be, would do.

3 thoughts on “P. D. James, Observer of Human Nature

  1. Adrianna Espino

    Have read all – or nearly all – James’ mysteries. She’s a favorite; may be time to reread one or more.

  2. --ae

    Hard to say which is the favorite; it’s been several years that I’ve been reading her.
    Probably most memorable is Devices and Desires. That’s probably the first I read; and it was when hubby was away on a business trip. Made the mistake of telling my sons a few details — you can see where this is going. 🙂
    As I’d go upstairs to read and then sleep, I’d hear whistling; I think it was “Jesus Loves Me” that the suspected killer whistled in the dark and that was of course what I heard behind and around me. Scary! And not sleep-inducing.

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