I expected not to like Time to Be In Earnest simply on the principle of it being an autobiography and therefore being navel-gazing. Consequently, I was happily surprised to really enjoy it.
I liked the format of the book--part daily diary, part lifelong history. I thought James combined the two well, going from a discussion of a minute detail of her life to the broader topic of, for instance, the purpose of the BBC, fairly effortlessly.
James referenced a number of events and people of whom I had no notion, so at times it was handy to have the internet close by to look things up, and that was a bit arduous.
It is clear that James loves her country--the cities, the churches, the country landscape, the ocean, the language. This love comes through her writing clearly, and with me reading, she was preaching to the choir.
I expected a war-romance kind of book (perhaps because I haven't read Sebastian Faulks before?) and got so much more. It feels like Faulks takes his readers very seriously, and gives us something to really chew on and think about.
Yes, there's romance, but it's complicated. In addition, there is beautiful descriptions of the scenery of France, a delve into how people handle the psychological damage of war, and a historical narrative on life in France during the Second World War.
One of my favourite things about Faulks' writing: his thorough descriptions of food and clothing. It really helps build a mental picture of the world of 1940s era France and England.