Daughter of Sid James (a comic); married.
Home—Sussex, England. Agent—Gillon Aitken, Aitken Alexander Associates, 18-21 Cavaye Pl., London SW10 9PT, England.
McKitterick Award for first-time novelists over forty, Society of Authors, for This Time of Dying.
This Time of Dying, Portobello (London, England), 2006, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Reina James began her career as a novelist relatively late in life, but was rewarded for her efforts with the McKitterick Award, a prize given by the Society of Authors for a debut novel by an author over forty years old. James's This Time of Dying, which garnered the prize, was published in England in 2006, followed by a U.S. release the following year, to critical praise. The novel is based on the historic 1918 Spanish flu pandemic in England, a timely subject given the present health concerns regarding a potential new strain of virus in the early part of the twenty-first century. Henry Speake is an undertaker of the day who finds the increase in business due to the spread of illness is too great for him to handle, and his fears are compounded by a letter he discovers, written by a doctor who believed the war was in part to blame for the flu's rapid dissemination. Speake makes friends with a schoolteacher, the widow Thompson, and together they attempt to make the best of their situation. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews found the book to be "a curiosity—sharp glimpses of human nature scattered over a detailed period panorama." Matthew Creasy, writing in the Financial Times, labeled James's effort "a muted but at times moving novel about the persistence of the ordinary during extraordinary times." Library Journal contributor Leann Restaino cited James's use of detail and accurate descriptions of the period, and called the result "a wonderfully engrossing read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Financial Times, September 9, 2006, Matthew Creasy, review of This Time of Dying, p. 33.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2007, review of This Time of Dying, p. 44.
Library Journal, February 15, 2007, Leann Restaino, review of This Time of Dying, p. 113.
Publishers Weekly, February 5, 2007, review of This Time of Dying, p. 41.
CommuniGate Web site,http://www.communigate.co.uk/ (October 10, 2007), "Carry On Daughter."
Guardian Online,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (September 30, 2006), Rachel Hore, review of This Time of Dying.