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Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter Hardcover – February 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: George Weidenfeld & Nicholson; First Edition edition (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297859714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297859710
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,918,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fraser is a highly regarded British biographer, and the late Harold Pinter, her husband, was a Nobel-winning British playwright. So, the circle they generally traveled in was made up of not only fellow writers but also, because of their individual and combined celebrity, fellow celebrities. Fraser’s latest book is both joyous and sad. The former because she shares diary entries concerning her relationship with Pinter (they lived together from August 1975 until Christmas 2008), and it was obviously a stimulating love-match. And sad because the book ends when it does because of Pinter’s death from cancer; his struggle with the disease had been years-long. As expected, given their fame and the fame of their associates, lots of name-dropping goes on here. This is not, of course, the story of two starving artists trying to scratch together a living in some cold-water flat. But privileged as they were, they nevertheless experienced the normal highs and lows together, and the result is a poignant read. Serious readers will generate demand for this title, and they will respond with gratitude to Fraser’s intimacy. --Brad Hooper --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

Antonia Fraser's poignant memoir Must You Go? begins in 1975 when, aged 42, she meets the playwright with 'bright black eyes' at a dinner party, sparking a 33-year love affair HARPER'S BAZAAR Antonia Fraser writes a moving portrait of her relationship with late husband Harold Pinter VOGUE But the book is in the end not so much a literary memoir as the simplest of love stories. As such, it's captivating -- David Sexton EVENING STANDARD As the memoir, Must You Go?, movingly proves, Pinter's love of women finally reached fulfilment in a marriage of true minds -- Michael Billington WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY It is neither authobiography nor biography but a love story, romantic, poignant and very funny, illuminating her husband's character and creativity -- Valerie Grove THE TIMES Antonia Fraser's memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, Must You Go?, is extraordinary by any standards. Based on the diaries she kept during her 33-year relationship with the dramatist, it is simultaneously a love story, an intimate portrait of a great writer and an exercise in self-revelation -- Michael Billington THE GUARDIAN This book - full of funny and tender things - satisfies on more than one level. It is an intimate account of the life and habits of a major artist; it is a pencil sketch of British high society in the second half of the 20th century; and it is, more than either of these things, and much more unusually, a wonderfully full description of the deep pleasures and comforts of married love -- Sam Leith SPECTATOR Addictive and affecting as an account of a 33-year-old love affair, with walk-on parts for Vaclav Havel, Salman Rushdie, The Princess of Wales and many others, it is memorable for its intimate vignettes -- James Fergusson COUNTRY LIFE After 33 years, he [Pinter] remained as besotted with Antonia Fraser as he had always been. He would write her poems, send her flowers, buy her presents...Here, astonishingly, was the Mr Darcy of Campden Hill Square: forbidding and combustible on the outside, gentle and tender at home -- James Preston EVENING STANDARD Pinter's first diagnosis with cancer of the oesophagus came on 13 December 2001, soon after that public "Fall" of 11 September. Fraser traces the "steps downwards" through the eight ensuing years of sporadic anguish and relief with exemplary clarity and courage...Fraser keeps her gaze steady and her heart open -- Boyd Tonkin THE INDEPENDENT It is written with palpable love, warmth, affection and a huge sense of loss for a man regarded by many as Britain's greatest living playwright before his death on Christmas Eve 2008...Must You Go? is essentially a heart-warming love story -- Charles Spencer DAILY TELEGRAPH As superior gossip about literary, theatrical and political stars it is entertaining and often very funny. As a testament to a long, loving marriage it is simply touching -- Anne Chisholm SUNDAY TELEGRAPH Finally this book works, just as it appears their lives worked, as the most touching and enduring of love stories...The ending, brutal and unsentimentally presented yet filled with a Tolstoyan directness of feeling, is almost unbearably moving. The whole of this lovely book fills you with gratitude that happenstance can, once in while, not screw up and find the right girl for the right boy -- Dominic Dromgoole FINANCIAL TIMES This engaging memoir succeeds on two fronts. First it brings to light the private world of Harold Pinter, one of our greatest playwrights, but rather more importantly, it tells the remarkable love story between the writer and his wife Antonia Fraser...In the coming years there will be many biographies and assessments of this writer's life but none, I believe, will match the gentle intimacy of Antonia Fraser's memoir -- Graham Ball SUNDAY EXPRESS Few people have the emotional capacity for a grand passion, or the talent for expressing it, as she does. Lady Antonia is a narrative historian and she has spent the year since Pinter died writing out their love story -- Victoria Glendinning DAILY MAIL ' "No flowers on my grave," he hissed after seeing dead cornflowers on Larkin's. His wishes have been honoured in this book, which is less flowery than most elegies have a right to be, one year on. He had already approved the diary entries he'd read as "a great record of - us". -- Blake Morrison GUARDIAN Fraser often writes beautifully, in carefully weighted sentences charged with a mischievous wit and, finally, a heart-snagging tenderness -- Clare Allfree METRO a poignant, touching and romantic tale that will illuminate a little-understood side of Pinter NEWS OF THE WORLD Following several high-profile extracts, Antonia Fraser's memoir of her life with Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter stormed the review pages this week THE BOOKSELLER This book is a love story and a very moving one...There is a good test of a biography of memoir. Does it leave you thinking, I would like to have known this person? I would very much like to have known Harold Pinter - and that's not something I had thought before reading this book -- Allan Massie LITERARY REVIEW A rollicking read -- Richard Fitzpatrick IRISH EXAMINER For anyone interested in Harold Pinter, this is required reading -- Melanie McDonagh THE TABLET The final section of Must You Go? is the strongest and most affecting, an account of Pinter's ill health, his 75th-birthday celebratins in Dublin, his Nobel Prize, his struggle to make his political voice heard and Fraser's gradual realisation that her time with Pinter is running out. This is a moving account of carefully crafted and cherished love, a theme that is, in itself, unusual -- Hilary Fannin IRISH TIMES Must You Go? is wholeheartedly recommended to anybody who loves or hates Harold Pinter, has an interest in theatre or just can't resist a good old-fashioned love story -- Philip Fisher BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE WEBSITE 'This is one of the most 'un-put-downable' books I have read in ages' -- Ruth Rees CATHOLIC TIMES 'Those who woul have liked to explore the bewitching love story that their union surely holds have to be content with occasinal details, such as Pinter's meltingly sweet focus on Fraser as he asks her, during that final ambulance ride to his death, "What are your plans - generally?". -- Terri Apter TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT As ever, Fraser writes beautifully. Her book is an uplifting, warm and moving tribute to her life with Harold, a man who often described himself as 'the luckiest man in the world', and a companion who is sorely missed GOOD BOOK GUIDE Never sentimental, she enlivens every page of this affectionate memoir with humour, wit and minute observation -- Maria Perry-Robinson CATHOLIC HERALD She provides considerable insight into the magnetic intellectual attraction she and Pinter exerted on each other, their respective creative processes, and the colourful characters they mixed with in London high society -- Paul Nolan HOT PRESS (Ireland) Harold Pinter was one of Hackney's literary illuminati and this honest account of his big mouth and kind heart from his widow dispels some of the myths about him and allows us to consider his legacy without being deafened by his angry voice -- The Hit List By Pages Of Hackney THE INDEPENDENT As superior gossip about literary, theatrical and political stars, it is entertaining and often very funny. As a testament to a long, loving marriage it is simply touching -- Anne Chisholm LADY MARGARET HALL - THE BROWN BOOK Her final chapters are searingly honest and often heart wrenching to read -- Lucy Popescu TRIBUNE This book, then, is at once a highly readable account of a love story between two celebrities that, incidentally, 'drops' enough famous names to satisfy any gourmet gossip and a valuable source for understanding the work of one of the giants of twentieth century literature CONTEMPORARY REVIEW it reads like an extended eulogy to a lost lover -- Michael Quinn THE STAGE Lady Antonia's memoir, based on the diary she has kept since 1968, is an addictive and affecting account of her 33-year love affair with the playwright who defined his age COUNTRY LIFE Great figures from recent (literary) history flit through its pages, but what really engages is the sense of life and love intertwining -- Ian Rankin THE GUARDIAN The mutual fascination of Harold and Antonia never wavered; this luscious, name-dropping book celebrates the strange compatibility that lasted until Pinter's death in 2008 -- Kate Saunders THE TIMES

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Customer Reviews

As soon as I realized it wasn't going to get better, I put down the book.
T. shaw
I think she should have used her writing skill to tell their story rather than giving us her unadorned diary entries covering their time together.
carol irvin
If she did mention that in this book, I was too bored to get beyond the first half of the book to find out.
Busy Mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 101 people found the following review helpful By David Cady VINE VOICE on September 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It seems churlish to criticize what is obviously a sincere labor of love, but "Must You Go," Antonia Fraser's new memoir of her marriage to Nobel Prize-winning writer, Harold Pinter, is a heartfelt bore. Fraser has subtitled the book "My Life with Harold Pinter," and she ain't kidding. Heavily based on three decades of diaries, this is a week by week (sometimes day by day) description of where the couple went, with whom they lunched and dined, what plays they saw, what trips they took...for 33 years. Much of it is mind-numbingly dull.

In the entry for April 5, 1977, for example, we learn the color of Pinter's tracksuit. Innocuous information to be sure, and no harm no foul. But then we're told the color of Fraser's tracksuit as well as those of three of her children. Why? What on Earth does it add to our understanding of...anything? And that's typical of the unnecessary information with which we're inundated here, along with entries like: "Visited the Naipauls, first time in ages...Vidia thin...Pat so happy he is back." Hey, I'm not averse to some healthy name-dropping (there's plenty more where that came from), but names alone are not enough to keep me turning pages.

To be fair, there are interesting nuggets and passages buried among the minutiae: Fraser's identification with mystery writer Agatha Christie; insights into her and Pinter's writing processes; reflections on Vaclav Havel during a 1990 visit to the Czech Republic; and the section in which Fraser discusses her writing of "Marie Antoinette" is quite engrossing. And, as it should be with a memoir, we do come to know and feel for the author and her husband as real people.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Jody TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When Antonia Fraser's Mary Queen Of Scots made its splashy debut in the States I was impressed both by its scholarship and the way the press fawned over the glamorous author who apparently had a gift for being able to dash off hundreds of erudite pages in the few spare minutes between luncheons and dinner parties. It was pleasant to read about an author who had it all, even if the atmosphere seemed a bit rarified and not much fun.

The very different splash Lady Antonia and Harold Pinter made a few years later was equally impressive in a supermarket checkout tabloid kind of way--the beautiful scholar and Britain's handsome actor/director/premier playwright--a romance that skirted cheesiness only because of the obvious and considerable pain involved.

Must You Go? is Fraser's very personal version of life with Harold Pinter. Taken from her diaries, often comic and always interesting, its two main characters are accomplished people, an artist and a scholar, whose symbiosis is clear. Her organizational skills gave him the space to create and his flamboyant theatrical world brought her out of a writer's solitude. This is a memoir of thirty plus years and the course of a deep and abiding love from first meeting to Pinter's death, and though Fraser manages to maintain some detachment for most of the book, her grief is palpable in the very moving last few pages.

Fraser's skills are evident. The pages are liberally seasoned with vignettes of some of the most glittering names of the last quarter of the last century and the first decade of this one.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on September 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love Antonia Fraser's works ... along with her contemporary, Allison Weir. I enjoy learning about England's historical figures as her writing is not dull or boring like a lot of biographers are.

Then why is her personal memoir such a dullard? I couldn't even finish the book because my eyes were crossing every time she would mention so and so eating at the same restaurant that she was at or so and so was admiring of her husband, Harold. That is all that I've managed to gleam so far. To think I was expecting something more intimate and personal especially since both Harold and Antonia were married to other people at the time of their meeting. I didn't expect a celebrity gush of confidentialty but did expect something more than just a daily note of going out to eat and having dinner with famous people.

If I wanted to read something like that, I would have picked up US Weekly or whatever the gossip rags are. I wanted to read more about the author and why she writes the stuff she writes and about her marriage to what was obviously her soul-mate. I wanted to know what she was thinking during that stormy time when her husband and Harold's wife first found out about their affair. I wanted to know what the children thought of the affair. I wanted to know why they were still happily married years long after. It is not common for affairs that lead to marriage stay happy or couples staying together for another 30 years.

If she did mention that in this book, I was too bored to get beyond the first half of the book to find out. What a shame. She really is a talented writer. But not when it comes to writing about her own life.

9/23/10
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