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Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter

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A unique testimony to modern literature's most celebrated and enduring marriage. A unique testimony to modern literature's most celebrated and enduring marriage.


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A unique testimony to modern literature's most celebrated and enduring marriage. A unique testimony to modern literature's most celebrated and enduring marriage.

30 review for Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra-X has been locked down for one full year

    Memoir of a marriage between two people at the top of the literary game who had spouses, six children between them when they met, but cared more for each other than them. After their first meeting Pinter said to the author, "Must you go?" and the lust became an affair became marriage. 33 years of being in love, not just loving. True love sometimes involves hurting others, when should we do our duty and when should we be true to ourselves? Antonia Fraser never addresses this or any other question Memoir of a marriage between two people at the top of the literary game who had spouses, six children between them when they met, but cared more for each other than them. After their first meeting Pinter said to the author, "Must you go?" and the lust became an affair became marriage. 33 years of being in love, not just loving. True love sometimes involves hurting others, when should we do our duty and when should we be true to ourselves? Antonia Fraser never addresses this or any other question that requires any depth to an answer. She writes only of their lives mixing with the glitterati of the literary, film and theatre world and of their love, always of their love for each other. It is a lovely book, a deeply romantic read but in a real sense, not romance-novel at all, but it has to be said, it is shallow. I would have expected more of an author known for her deeply-penetrating and well-researched historical biographies. Perhaps love that deep needs no reflection, it just is two people as one and no questions, it's all an answer to the heart's quest in itself? I've never experienced that kind of love, but *I'd like to.(view spoiler)[ *Want my phone number? Send me your life cv first ;-) (hide spoiler)]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Brown

    Real Housewives of Literary London. I have rarely been this disappointed in a book. If reading a daytimer gets you off, you'll love it. But if you want to know what people were thinking and feeling while committing adultery, leaving their 6 kids behind, and dining with the rich famous, you're out of luck. The author gives us no insight into why she fell so in love and her behavior comes across as selfish and blind to the needs of others. She drops names without any explanation of who they might be Real Housewives of Literary London. I have rarely been this disappointed in a book. If reading a daytimer gets you off, you'll love it. But if you want to know what people were thinking and feeling while committing adultery, leaving their 6 kids behind, and dining with the rich famous, you're out of luck. The author gives us no insight into why she fell so in love and her behavior comes across as selfish and blind to the needs of others. She drops names without any explanation of who they might be, as if to suggest that if the reader doesn't recognize who these 1970s literati were, they aren't worth bothering with. I'm baffled by the glowing reviews.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fred Moramarco

    Hemingway wrote somewhere that when two people are deeply in love, it is Inevitable that their story will end in tragedy, since one will quite likely out- live the other. I've been thinking about this recently because in the last few years I've read a handful of books by widows who were in deeply reciprocated love relationships and who write about those relationships in retrospect with great affection and a deep sense of loss. These books include Joan Didion's The Year of Living Dangerously, Sandr Hemingway wrote somewhere that when two people are deeply in love, it is Inevitable that their story will end in tragedy, since one will quite likely out- live the other. I've been thinking about this recently because in the last few years I've read a handful of books by widows who were in deeply reciprocated love relationships and who write about those relationships in retrospect with great affection and a deep sense of loss. These books include Joan Didion's The Year of Living Dangerously, Sandra Gilbert's Wrongful Death, A Memoir, Eleanor Clift's Two Weeks of Life, Anne Roiphe's Epilogue, A Memoir. Obviously most of these books are written from a woman's perspective, since women outlive men (although I also recently read Donald Hall's The Best Day, The Worst Day, Life with Jane Kenyon, where he writes about his wife's long and losing bout with cancer). Add to these titles, and many others, Antonia Fraser's My Life with Harold Pinter, her touching and moving account of her life with the great British playwright who died in 2008. Fraser and Pinter were in a 33 year relationship, though both were married to others (Pinter to a well-known British actress, Fraser to a member of Parliament) when they met in 1975 and did not marry one another until 1980 after both divorces were final and some recovery had occurred. In her account of their life together, Fraser makes it clear how eminently suited they were for one another. Both high-achieving English writers, both moving in upper echelon social circles, both keenly intelligent, ambitious and gregarious with shelves filled with awards of various kinds (including, for Pinter, the Nobel Prize in Literature). This is an enviable relationship from almost any perspective, but that does not lessen the sting of Pinter's death, though he lived to the fairly advanced age of 78. In addition to the lovely accounts of their feelings for one another, what distinguishes Fraser's book is its page after page of (high-end) celebrity dish. On these pages you will find appearances by Ralph Richardson, Lawrence Olivier, Faye Dunaway, Arthur Miller, John Fowles, Ian McEwan, Leonard Bernstein, Steve McQueen, Helen Mirren, Alan Bates, Vidia Naipaul, Sofia Coppola, Rex Harrison, Frank Sinatra, and the list goes on and on and on. Here's a typical passage: Lunch at Kensington Palace with the Prince and Princess of Wales [yes, that's Princess Di] for Shimon Peres, Prime Minister of Israel, Philip Roth, in his waggish way: `Of course Harold hasn't been invited: he's Jewish.' But these somewhat gloating passages of what it's like to be rich and famous are balanced by the warm, tender, loving feelings these two life partners shared. These feelings are epitomized in two poems, one which Harold wrote for Antonia, and the other which she wrote for him. Here is Harold's: It is Here What sound was that? I turn away, into the shaking room. What was that sound that come in on the dark? What is this maze of light it leaves us in? What is this stance we take, To turn away and then turn back? What did we hear? It was the breath we took when we first met. Listen. It is here. The other, by Antonia, is in "bridge" language, because she believes bridge, "because it's about partnership, is a romantic game." For My Partner You're my two-hearts-as-one Doubled into game You're my Blackwood You're my Gerber You're my Grand Slam, vulnerable Doubled and redoubled Making all other contracts Tame. These are privileged lives, but well-lived, filled with love and creativity. The book is aptly titled with the question one lover asks another at the end of life: Must you go?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ammar

    Read it years ago but it was so fresh and spontaneous and romantic . The book was sincere and it showed the creative side of both Lady Fraser and Harold Pinter

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leendert

    precious precious people. started out well, but i was annoyed beyond belief by the end of it. finishing this book was a chore and perhaps a way of making sure i'll remember never to read anything about pinter again. maybe that's a bit strong. but really - a guy who labors for days over those sort of poems included in the memoir and can still win a nobel, albeit as a playwright, really? the whole thing of screeching for the rights of the repressed and dispossessed, whilst living a life of luxury, d precious precious people. started out well, but i was annoyed beyond belief by the end of it. finishing this book was a chore and perhaps a way of making sure i'll remember never to read anything about pinter again. maybe that's a bit strong. but really - a guy who labors for days over those sort of poems included in the memoir and can still win a nobel, albeit as a playwright, really? the whole thing of screeching for the rights of the repressed and dispossessed, whilst living a life of luxury, defending milosevic, and getting all bent out of shape because some french ambassador of culture or something didn't know who the hell you were - please, spare me. touching love story. well, these two were really into each other, and that's certainly great. but i sure as hell doubt i would've enjoyed spending a meal with 'uncle cuddles'. this review is of course completely uncalled for. sue me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Who can resist a rollicking, passionate love story, but even more so, when the characters are vital, alive and have so many dimensions as this karmic couple. Antonia Fraser and Harold Pinter are level headed, famous and accomplished, married quite happily to others, when they meet in 1975 and are immediately transfixed, experiencing an instant magnetism that blazes off the page. The words in the haunting title, "Must You Go," were actually spoken from him to her that fateful night following an o Who can resist a rollicking, passionate love story, but even more so, when the characters are vital, alive and have so many dimensions as this karmic couple. Antonia Fraser and Harold Pinter are level headed, famous and accomplished, married quite happily to others, when they meet in 1975 and are immediately transfixed, experiencing an instant magnetism that blazes off the page. The words in the haunting title, "Must You Go," were actually spoken from him to her that fateful night following an opening of his play The Birthday Party, a sentence resonating with pathos almost 34 years later when he passes. Their lives together follow the trajectory of the latter half of the 20th century through the present day, when it seems that they know everyone of any consequence, whether in the arts or in world affairs. It is difficult to find two people more in tune with one another on all levels, emotionally and intellectually. Her histories and mysteries, his plays, poems. As well as his continued skills as a director and even almost until his last year, as an actor. Thanks to their insatiable curiosity and dedication, they never ceased creating and contributing. Following his first fights with "the terror," Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize. Lady Fraser uses her journals which she religiously kept as springboards for this memoir, interspersed with comments that give perspective from the distance of time. The memoir is divided into three distinct parts: dawn, high noon and twilight, as she refers to them in her perface. Following their meeting and early days, "high noon" progresses thematically instead of chronologically. She is generous in her revelations and insights. There isn't a mean spirited observation or memory. She is truly a "Lady" in word and deed as well in title.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Please call her "Lady" Antonia, after all, her father was an Earl. She relates that she was quite relieved when at a dinner party the host correctly sat her to his right; the rightful place for the daughter of an Earl. Did she mention she is the daughter of an Earl? No doubt a fascinating life, lived around the best and the brightest. But this person is everything wrong with the British class system. Not a mention about how leaving her six (6!) small children might have affected them. Hmmmm. Gue Please call her "Lady" Antonia, after all, her father was an Earl. She relates that she was quite relieved when at a dinner party the host correctly sat her to his right; the rightful place for the daughter of an Earl. Did she mention she is the daughter of an Earl? No doubt a fascinating life, lived around the best and the brightest. But this person is everything wrong with the British class system. Not a mention about how leaving her six (6!) small children might have affected them. Hmmmm. Guess the nanny would have mentioned if they had been upset. Do love her political leanings, but when she takes pot shots at the US for it's treatment of the native population I thought of Seth Meyers and SNL. Really? Really? More Barbara Cartland than Barbara Tuchman. Yes, they had an amazing life. And who isn't a sucker for a love story? It was interesting to read about some of it. Glad I don't know her. Quite.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    If there’s one thing you walk away with after reading Antonia Fraser’s memoir Must You Go, My Life with Harold Pinter, it’s that she and her second husband Harold Pinter were deeply in love. Reading a memoir that doesn’t focus exclusively on tribulations its author has overcome is refreshing. Remarkable, even. Fraser has chosen to share what appears to be the happiest period of her life. And in the process proves Tolstoy wrong. At a party in 1975 Antonia Fraser was involved in a conversation that If there’s one thing you walk away with after reading Antonia Fraser’s memoir Must You Go, My Life with Harold Pinter, it’s that she and her second husband Harold Pinter were deeply in love. Reading a memoir that doesn’t focus exclusively on tribulations its author has overcome is refreshing. Remarkable, even. Fraser has chosen to share what appears to be the happiest period of her life. And in the process proves Tolstoy wrong. At a party in 1975 Antonia Fraser was involved in a conversation that included the playwright Harold Pinter. She was taking her leave when Pinter turned to her and asked “Must you go?”. And there it began. Both parties were married – Antonia with six children. The affair continued until 1977, when she divorced her first husband in the amicable manner that seemed to be the defining characteristic of their marriage. Pinter’s separation from his wife, the actress Vivien Merchant, was less amicable. The British tabloids had a field day and Merchant refused to sign the divorce papers until 1980. Fraser and Pinter married that same year and lived happily together until his death of cancer in 2008. This 35 year period is told to us through excerpts of Fraser’s journals with some narrative explanation. She appears to be a rabid diarist – never missing a day. Which is funny when you consider that she’s a biographer by profession, accustomed to perusing her subjects’ diaries, letters and papers in the course of her research. The entries that make up the book are not so much stream-of-conscious ramblings or emotional outpourings as they are concise cataloging of the day’s most interesting events. Fortunately Pinter and Fraser lived interesting lives and knew interesting people – so most of their days together are worth re-visiting. The name dropping that takes place on these pages is almost shameful! Jackie-O, Salman Rushdie, Samuel Beckett, Philip Roth… the list of literati seems never-ending. But her commentary is never salacious. These were the circles the couple traveled in, and as you read you get the sense that Dame Fraser would never commit the impolitesse of gossiping about friends. I really enjoyed Must You Go, as I have every book I’ve ever read by Antonia Fraser. It may not be for everyone, though. One Goodreads reviewer negatively compared Must You Go to “reading a daytimer”, and to be fair the description isn’t far off. It is this gift of brevity - Antonia Fraser’s ability to capture a moment in a deftly executed prose sketch – that makes her memoir so charming. Little jokes, witty descriptions, notes left on the pages by Pinter (which she welcomed) – it is the description of a full life encapsulated in a few lines a day. Fraser had the sense not to overwork the prose, or expand too much on the things her audience already knew. At times her admiration of Pinter seems almost worshipful, but the book was published 2 years after his death. Her loss is fresh. She obviously misses him. Equally obvious is her happiness in remembering. Is it a complete picture? Probably not. But Must You Go is a glimpse into their private world. Fraser has every right to choose what she shares. The audio version, which is what I listened to, is narrated by the incomparable Sandra Duncan. Her inflections are flawless. The 11 hours and 14 minutes moved by quickly, the only off note being the choice made to have the poetry by Harold Pinter which is referenced throughout voiced by a man. Whether it would have flowed so well or been so entertaining to read in book form, I’m not sure. I tend to think it would be. Yet there was something delightfully intimate about hearing it read (it’s written in the first person) as if Fraser was relating the stories over tea. In fact, I intend to avoid interviews given by the real Antonia Fraser. If her true voice differs too much from Duncan’s I’ll be devastated. For more reviews, please visit my blog at http://booksexyreview.com/

  9. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Antonia Fraser was a respected author, wife of a Conservative Member of Parliament, and the mother of six children and Harold Pinter was a celebrated playwright, married to a well-known actress, and father of a son when they met in 1975. They fell in love, quickly divorced their spouses, and married. Their love story lasted for 33 years until Pinter's death in 1975. This memoir of their love story is based on Fraser' diaries. While it details their activities and literary successes over their pe Antonia Fraser was a respected author, wife of a Conservative Member of Parliament, and the mother of six children and Harold Pinter was a celebrated playwright, married to a well-known actress, and father of a son when they met in 1975. They fell in love, quickly divorced their spouses, and married. Their love story lasted for 33 years until Pinter's death in 1975. This memoir of their love story is based on Fraser' diaries. While it details their activities and literary successes over their period of their marriage and it is clear that Fraser and Pinter adored each other, there is a lack of narrative explaining the character and personality of Harold Pinter that so attracted Antonia Fraser. More a list of activites engaged in and personalities encountered, this memoir of a love story is ultimately unsatisfying.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kayleen

    I only finished this book because I owe a review for the ARC. Ugh! 300+ pages of self-important boring diary entires and endless name dropping. I've never read any of her books before, and based on this, never will again! I only finished this book because I owe a review for the ARC. Ugh! 300+ pages of self-important boring diary entires and endless name dropping. I've never read any of her books before, and based on this, never will again!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lori Ann

    Please, please go. Life is too short for me to finish reading about the irresponsible, navel-gazing, drivel of these two. They just seem to live in some alternate universe.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gayla Bassham

    I admit I was rolling my eyes at the beginning of the book with all of the posh talk about dinner parties with the upper crust of British society and deciding how to divide up multiple houses when the Frasers divorced. But -- once I had turned off the part of my brain that cares about income inequality -- this memoir won me over. If you're looking for a lot of information about Pinter's work or writing process, you won't find it here: this is an affectionate account of a long and happy marriage. I admit I was rolling my eyes at the beginning of the book with all of the posh talk about dinner parties with the upper crust of British society and deciding how to divide up multiple houses when the Frasers divorced. But -- once I had turned off the part of my brain that cares about income inequality -- this memoir won me over. If you're looking for a lot of information about Pinter's work or writing process, you won't find it here: this is an affectionate account of a long and happy marriage. And reading it now, at the height of political turmoil in the United States (this is the height, right? Please tell me it's not going to get yet higher), was enormously soothing, like the fairy tale you might tell a child at the end of a long, exhausting day.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark Farley

    A tender and warm, fascinating narrated memoir, with extracts from her extensive diaries, this historian recounts her long marriage with the poet Harold Pinter, eventually documenting his fight with, and eventual death, from cancer. While not the usual type of book that I read, I had a vested interest as I have met both subjects a few times working at their local branch of Waterstones. Not only were they regular customers during my years there, but I did a reading event for Antonia about a year A tender and warm, fascinating narrated memoir, with extracts from her extensive diaries, this historian recounts her long marriage with the poet Harold Pinter, eventually documenting his fight with, and eventual death, from cancer. While not the usual type of book that I read, I had a vested interest as I have met both subjects a few times working at their local branch of Waterstones. Not only were they regular customers during my years there, but I did a reading event for Antonia about a year before Harold died. He was visibly ailing and Antonia called to see if there was any lift at the branch that she wasn’t aware of, to help her husband up to the first floor, where we did our events. I said that it wouldn’t be a problem and that despite not having a customer lift, we did happen to have a service lift. It was normally full of boxes, trays of wine glasses and chairs but I would clear it and that would be fine to save him from tackling the stairs. When I told my manager about my plans, he said to me, ‘You really want to take a Nobel prize winner up in that scabby thing?’ and as much as he had a point, I didn’t have a lot of choice. The lack of lift really was a sore point and we had endless complaints from frustrated yummy mummies with double pushchairs already. The night of the event came and the place was packed with people wanting to hear Antonia talk about the French king, Louis XIV. When the author arrived with her husband, we directed them to the service lift. But Harold wasn’t having it. It wasn’t because it wasn’t becoming of him, it was because of the sheer determination and the inner strength that the author has outlined in this fine book. He insisted to me that he would take the two flights of stairs. He motioned his wife on ahead and took his cane to the first step. Despite his protestations, I said that I could not let him do it himself and I at least accompanied him. So there we were with everyone darting past us and by God, we made it. Ten minutes it took but he did it. I had saved him a seat at the front but he said he wanted to sit towards the back, saying that this was her moment and not his, so I plonked him down on a chair and started proceedings. A few minutes into her description of the work and its subject, Harold waves me over again. I trot over to his site and he motions me closer and whispers into my ear, ‘Tell her to speak up…’ Right, I think. I look up and she’s in full flow and a room of around 75 people look enthralled. I look back to Harold and he shoos me to her. I didn’t want to interrupt or embarrass her, so I grab a pen and a piece of paper and scribble her a note. I tiptoe to her side and politely cough, handing her the note. She stops what she is saying and mutter Harold’s name. She unfolds the note and people look on curiously as I back away. Antonia laughs and says to the crowd, ‘My husband, always looking out for me.’

  14. 5 out of 5

    BookSweetie

    Antonia Fraser, born in London in 1932, is a Brit of privilege ("Lady" Antonia Fraser); historian; successful writer in various genres (non-fiction includes The Weaker Vessel, The Warrior Queens, Marie Antoinette; detective fiction includes Quiet as a Nun and other Jemima Shore books); mother of six children by first husband Sir Hugh Fraser (b. 1918) who was an MP in The House of Commons from 1945-1984 and step-mother of one by her second husband, the 1975 Nobel Laureate/playwright and screenwr Antonia Fraser, born in London in 1932, is a Brit of privilege ("Lady" Antonia Fraser); historian; successful writer in various genres (non-fiction includes The Weaker Vessel, The Warrior Queens, Marie Antoinette; detective fiction includes Quiet as a Nun and other Jemima Shore books); mother of six children by first husband Sir Hugh Fraser (b. 1918) who was an MP in The House of Commons from 1945-1984 and step-mother of one by her second husband, the 1975 Nobel Laureate/playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter; and --- diary keeper. That diary-keeping habit has given us Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter, a book that, true to the subtitle, does indeed focus on Fraser's relationship and life with Pinter, beginning when they meet, forming a near-instantaneous connection, and continuing for the roughly thirty years of an ensuing affair, eventual divorces, marriage, and compatible life together until Pinter's death in 2008 (after eight years of his declining health beginning with a diagnosis of esophageal cancer). The diary format contained entries that seemed "filtered," surprisingly unemotional in tone and too abbreviated, which, in my opinion, did not do justice to illuminating the topic. Reading a diary conjures up delicious suspicions of secrets revealed and glimpses of self-awareness, but this book has a more clinical touch. Did either really struggle with the moral questions of so public a breaking up of two functioning families, hers with 6 children? How were those close relationships "handled" or impacted? What was it about her own life that led to such a dramatic shift? And, what appealed to her so much about Pinter? Unfortunately, the reading experience left me generally unsatisfied, although the last half or third of the book less so. The value of the book, perhaps, would rise considerably for those who are already somewhat informed fans of Fraser/Pinter -- or, better yet, if this book were read by such fans in conjunction with a more traditional biography or memoir of either (or both).

  15. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    Seldom have I read a book so filled with literary references. They are on every page and, while Antonia Fraser's memoir of her life with Harold Pinter is lightweight, it is intellectually charged with interesting bits of flotsam and jetsam from the literary world of a couple who were immersed in literary lives and lights. It was while at a social gathering in 1975 that Ms. Fraser walked up to Pinter, before leaving, to say that she liked his play, “The Birthday Party.” The two barely knew each o Seldom have I read a book so filled with literary references. They are on every page and, while Antonia Fraser's memoir of her life with Harold Pinter is lightweight, it is intellectually charged with interesting bits of flotsam and jetsam from the literary world of a couple who were immersed in literary lives and lights. It was while at a social gathering in 1975 that Ms. Fraser walked up to Pinter, before leaving, to say that she liked his play, “The Birthday Party.” The two barely knew each other. He looked back at her with what she calls “amazing, extremely bright black eyes” and said, “Must you go?” He called her his destiny and wrote her love poems, some of them later collected in a volume called “Six Poems for A” (2007). She loved his bristling mind, his “awesome baritone” and the way his “black curly hair and pointed ears” made him look “like a satyr.” They remained happily together (marrying in 1980) for 33 years, through his Nobel Prize in 2005 and until his death from cancer, at 78, in December 2008. There are many anecdotes that intrigue the reader in this delightful memoir. One of my favorite moments follows: "Dinner with tom and Miriam Stoppard. The latter tackles Harold about the swearing in No Man's Land: 'This must be something in you, Harold, waiting to get out.' Harold: 'But I don't plan my characters' lives.' Then to Tom: 'Don't you find they take over sometimes?' Tom: 'No.'" It seems that their life is filled with such moments and, when the literary references wane, there are the political highlights that bring alive the times (a span of three decades) with intrusions of bits about the IRA or left and right-wing political goings-on. Pinter’s life force — he was mostly anything, it seems, but Pinteresque — comes through clearly here. Ms. Fraser details his love for cricket, tennis and bridge. He threw himself around recklessly on dance floors and swam “with a great splashing like a dog retrieving a ball.” The result is a wonderful read for anyone interested in the life of the epitome of a literary couple.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Seth Mann

    I enjoyed following the ebb and flow of Harold Pinter's and Antonia Fraser's 30+ years together. Fraser has successfully and naturally documented how they dedicated their lives to sharing myriad successes, failures, joys and hardships. Fraser maintains an honesty and matter-of-factness throughout. This not only makes their love feel familiar but also humanizes the circles in which Pinter and Fraser circulate - circles populated with an extraordinary cast of political leaders, intelligentsia, aut I enjoyed following the ebb and flow of Harold Pinter's and Antonia Fraser's 30+ years together. Fraser has successfully and naturally documented how they dedicated their lives to sharing myriad successes, failures, joys and hardships. Fraser maintains an honesty and matter-of-factness throughout. This not only makes their love feel familiar but also humanizes the circles in which Pinter and Fraser circulate - circles populated with an extraordinary cast of political leaders, intelligentsia, authors, playwrights, directors, actors, actresses, etc... Fraser succeeds in turning the spotlight off, rolling up the red carpet, and providing a tabloid-less simple and straightforward picture of the "elite" that shows their lives are not much different than yours or mine. I tended to think that for a love story there were too many references to the mundane and to Pinter's political activism (though not surprising given his plays and his Nobel). To this end, a Pinter fan would be pleased by the book and the glimpses it provides into his general character and his creative process. Fraser provides an off-the-cuff personal portrait of Pinter situated against the historical backdrop that influenced and drove him. After reading the tender final chapters, I realized that Fraser had also succeeded showing that true love does not exist as a mutually exclusive element divorced from other elements of a shared life - nor is it a back drop, an overarching theme, a comfort, a security or anything else. No, it is intertwined into everything - wholly present in all aspects of life: from the dreadfully mundane to joyously exciting, from the treacherously sad to the most disarmingly happy, from the joyously loud and alive to the deafening silence of sickness and death. Though slow and tedious at times, following their life through the passages in this book was very rewarding.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    MUST YOU GO tells the tale of a then, scandalous affair, in British literary circles. The affair ended in a long marriage between Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser (after they divorced their other spouses) and is told in the most decorous of language. Written from Fraser's diary entries beginning in 1975, it describes the lusty thunderbolt that struck these two literary lights and continued forever. It is fun to read. A memoir, the tale is rife with ever-so-many plays begun and written; directed; MUST YOU GO tells the tale of a then, scandalous affair, in British literary circles. The affair ended in a long marriage between Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser (after they divorced their other spouses) and is told in the most decorous of language. Written from Fraser's diary entries beginning in 1975, it describes the lusty thunderbolt that struck these two literary lights and continued forever. It is fun to read. A memoir, the tale is rife with ever-so-many plays begun and written; directed; performed; acted in and acclaimed. Also, research begun; books written; movies made of books, and lunches with high-brow friends in the literary and theatre world. Fraser, the mother of 6, includes the growing-up lives of her children in their private schools, and toward the end in their illustrious careers. Pinter, as a step-father, comes across as a generous and loving addition to a huge family. Their family vacations, called "FamHols" by Pinter, in castles, estates, resorts and expensive hotels seem quite a jolly affair. Fraser concludes the book with the catastrophic illness and death of Pinter in his early 70's. Fraser and Pinter and their family continue to have the best of times even as Pinter was dying.(Quotes Fraser: "... the best of times; the worst of times.") Pinter, a political activist all of his life, won the Nobel Prize when he was very ill. Fraser's account of his writing of his acceptance speech and the accolades and scorn that followed is fascinating. This is a charming tale of creative aristocrats and their almost improbable, to me, doings.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Callie

    I thank Antonia Fraser for writing this book and taking me places. If I couldn't be married to my own current dearly beloved husband, I sure would enjoy being married to a Nobel prize-winning playwright. If you read this, you will mostly be treated to her journal entries and find out things like what plays they attended, where they ate dinner, (and with what famous people) and how his writing is going and how her writing is going. You must know that. So it's not the story of the marriage, per se I thank Antonia Fraser for writing this book and taking me places. If I couldn't be married to my own current dearly beloved husband, I sure would enjoy being married to a Nobel prize-winning playwright. If you read this, you will mostly be treated to her journal entries and find out things like what plays they attended, where they ate dinner, (and with what famous people) and how his writing is going and how her writing is going. You must know that. So it's not the story of the marriage, per se, it's more the story of their LIFE. I mean, their goings and their doings. Which she says right in the title, but I still thought it was going to be more about the relationship. That's ok, though, I still liked it. And Antonia Fraser is unfailingly optimistic and good-natured and Harold and she get along famously. They only argue over politics and that's just once in a while, and just for fun. I like Antonia Fraser because she seems to definitely have in mind serving her reader first and foremost. She's trying to make sure she includes only the things that would interest us. Many many memoirs are self-serving, self-pitying, depressing, and painful (especially American ones? Do you think so? I think Americans overshare--generalizing of course). Who knows what she is cutting out, but she's old school and British. And so.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mam

    Was there ever a better, or more bittersweet title for a widow's memoir? Fraser tells us she chose her title because it was what Harold Pinter asked her as she left after their first encounter. A lovely arc. I wanted the memoir to be as lovely as the title suggested, especially because Fraser says she complied most of the memoir from the diaries she kept throughout their long marriage. After all, this is the story of two married prominent people, one the mother of six children, who were so besott Was there ever a better, or more bittersweet title for a widow's memoir? Fraser tells us she chose her title because it was what Harold Pinter asked her as she left after their first encounter. A lovely arc. I wanted the memoir to be as lovely as the title suggested, especially because Fraser says she complied most of the memoir from the diaries she kept throughout their long marriage. After all, this is the story of two married prominent people, one the mother of six children, who were so besotted that they left their spouses to live with, and then marry each other. Their early trysts were British tabloid news. But Fraser is up to something else, maybe more an assertion that they did indeed live and love together, so much of the memoir is a recounting of places they went and other prominent people with whom they dined. Maybe she wants to get her story on the public record, the historical record as Pinter was a Nobel Prize winner. There are some evocative moments recorded, including several lovely poems that Pinter wrote to celebrate his love for Fraser. Not enough, however, to sustain a reader's interest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Bradley

    Bought this for my mom for Christmas; someone else bought it for her, so I grabbed the non-gift copy and read it during the hols. Came away with a few realizations: 1. Fraser doth protest too much: she IS a Mitford character come to life. 2. I really need to be better acquainted with Pinter's work. 3. London is a small town if you're a literato. 4. Their love was profound, home-wrecking, poem-making, enduring, gorgeous etc. and I don't mean to diminish it in any way but it was so clearly made possib Bought this for my mom for Christmas; someone else bought it for her, so I grabbed the non-gift copy and read it during the hols. Came away with a few realizations: 1. Fraser doth protest too much: she IS a Mitford character come to life. 2. I really need to be better acquainted with Pinter's work. 3. London is a small town if you're a literato. 4. Their love was profound, home-wrecking, poem-making, enduring, gorgeous etc. and I don't mean to diminish it in any way but it was so clearly made possible by their ample resources. Pinter buys a HOUSE across the garden from Fraser's (he lives with Fraser) in order that he can write in peace and quiet. Yes, I'd like that, too.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    I completely changed my mind about this book half way through. At first I was disappointed that it was pages from Antonia Fraser's diary, and full of name dropping. They were, after all, a very famous couple. The title comes from one of their first conversations when she is about to leave a party, and he says "Must you go?" This is really an extraordinary love story told with lots of compassion and history, so in the end, I quite liked it. I completely changed my mind about this book half way through. At first I was disappointed that it was pages from Antonia Fraser's diary, and full of name dropping. They were, after all, a very famous couple. The title comes from one of their first conversations when she is about to leave a party, and he says "Must you go?" This is really an extraordinary love story told with lots of compassion and history, so in the end, I quite liked it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    oh, I really liked both of them before reading this book. remember Holly Hunter's anguished response to the sarcastic question..."it must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room"??? oh, I really liked both of them before reading this book. remember Holly Hunter's anguished response to the sarcastic question..."it must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room"???

  23. 4 out of 5

    BookBully

    Another case where I wish Goodreads would incorporate the half star as I would give this a 3.5 if possible. A bit tedious in spots; however, for the most part the writing is witty and the subject matter is interesting and poignant.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dianne Lange

    Maybe if I was more familiar with Pinter's plays, I would have enjoyed this more. Don't expect juicy gossip but a very positive spin on Fraser and Pinter's life together. Maybe if I was more familiar with Pinter's plays, I would have enjoyed this more. Don't expect juicy gossip but a very positive spin on Fraser and Pinter's life together.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rory

    Yay for getting back to reading! This was a bit of dazzle, incredibly romantic, somehow both real and unreal, will be loved by suckers for love and folks interested in geniuses, and Anglophiles.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bronwyn

    Only 15 pages in, but already I want to devote my life (OK, well the next week) to reading this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emmkay

    This was great fun! Her life = not like my life at all...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Such a beautiful account of love. Highly recommend

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chloe Lee

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediment. Love is not love, Which alters when it alteration finds [Or bends with the remover to remove.] - Sonnet 116, quoted in Chapter 20 I confess, I did not expect myself to have rated this 5 stars. I started the book with a mild bias, having known of Lady Antonia Fraser’s separation from her first husband, and I personally have a strong preference for commitment, loyalty and duty. However, the functions of good writing include persuading a reader Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediment. Love is not love, Which alters when it alteration finds [Or bends with the remover to remove.] - Sonnet 116, quoted in Chapter 20 I confess, I did not expect myself to have rated this 5 stars. I started the book with a mild bias, having known of Lady Antonia Fraser’s separation from her first husband, and I personally have a strong preference for commitment, loyalty and duty. However, the functions of good writing include persuading a reader even with different stances, and that is what this book has done to me. Although still questioning the extent of damage the separations had and have done to Sir Fraser and the six children, as well as Vivien Merchant, it is hard not to be touched by the love between the couple, which, as Lady Fraser has written in chapter 20, a perfect example of Sonnet 116. Furthermore, this book provides a good glimpse into the artsy and literary circles, something the usual reader would not be able to usually have access to. This is also something an aspiring novelist would really like to work towards. This rare glimpse also coincides with some historic moments which makes the book a worthy study in later times.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Wilner

    Moderately entertaining mix of high-end literary and societal namedropping, with bits of trivia folded in. Did you know Pinter voted for Margaret Thatcher first time out, and supported the Falklands War? Me neither. Also: he wrote extremely banal love poetry to Lady Antonia, a finer historian than memoirist. Traces his political 180, including a crush on Daniel Ortega, the defense of Serbian war crimes, and the ruination of many dinner parties with angry diatribes. Still, no one said a talented Moderately entertaining mix of high-end literary and societal namedropping, with bits of trivia folded in. Did you know Pinter voted for Margaret Thatcher first time out, and supported the Falklands War? Me neither. Also: he wrote extremely banal love poetry to Lady Antonia, a finer historian than memoirist. Traces his political 180, including a crush on Daniel Ortega, the defense of Serbian war crimes, and the ruination of many dinner parties with angry diatribes. Still, no one said a talented (maybe great, though the word is overused) playwright had to be a perfect human being. And it's admirable to read of his insistence of performing "Krapp's Last Tape'' even as he was shuttling in and out of hospitals in his final illness. I read it all, so maybe the star count should be higher, but really, the two of them deserve better than what's on offer in this volume.

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