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Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 2, 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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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


“Glowing. . . . There’s hardly a dull page.” 
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Entertaining and ultimately touching in its determination to recapture lost time, to portray a younger, more carefree self and to bring back a lost loved one, if only on the page."
—Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review

"A stirring celebration of what Fraser, reflecting near the end of Pinter's life, observed as a union 'to the infinite degree happy beyond all possible expectations.'"
The New Yorker

"Bold, intimate, madly entertaining. . . . Fraser simultaneously creates a tender portrait of an exciting marriage, and a deliciously detailed account of living in the thick of creativity and fame. A"
Entertainment Weekly

"An engrossing, anecdote-rich feat for theater lovers whose tastes extend beyond the glitter of Broadway. . . . The book ultimately sheds humanizing new light on a writer with a public reputation for his stern sense of ethics and the clammy, unsettling spell cast by his plays."
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

"It takes a daring biographer to turn her sharp eye on her own life as Antonia Fraser does so movingly and beautifully in her memoir Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter. It's a compelling diary of a passionate love affair, marriage, and 40-year conversation of two soul mates in the milieu of London's chattering classes."
Tina Brown, The Daily Beast

"Written with a very English, very literate brand of grace and restraint, Fraser's account of their life together (culled from her diaries) is fond and touching. But it's also a crisp, clear-eyed portrait of a shared life of creative work, political activism, wide-ranging travels, family — not always smooth going, sometimes rocky and controversial, but remarkable and fascinating nonetheless. In short, theirs was a fine romance, and Fraser shares that with us."
—The Seattle Times

“Fraser has used more than three decades’ worth of pithy, clever and frequent diary entries as the backbone of this tremendously engaging account. . . . The book works beautifully – as both a rare love story and a sharp portrait of life in the upper echelons of British literary society.”
Obit Magazine

“A lovely, intimate portrayal of a marriage . . . A wonderful testament to romance, love, shared humor, and true partnership."
Library Journal, starred review

"A moving compilation of diary entries written during the course of an artistically fruitful three-decade partnership . . . A devoted, respectful tribute."

Must You Go? is a love story (with a dash of scandal for spice), but it succeeds on many other levels as well. It is a window into British high society, a glimpse of the inspiration behind some of Pinter’s finest achievements and a kaleidoscope of historical and personal events. Most significantly, it is a testament to the 'private happiness' possible in a supportive marriage between two dynamic and ambitious people.”

Praise from the UK:

“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.”
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.”
The Guardian
“Neither autobiography nor biography but a love story, romantic, poignant and very funny, illuminating her husband's character and creativity.”
The Times

“[Writing] with exemplary clarity and courage . . . Fraser keeps her gaze steady and her heart open.”
The Independent  
“Unremittingly delicious: strange, rarefied, frequently hilarious.”
The Observer
“[Must You Go? is] told from a privileged backstage perspective, and observed with a sharp eye for social and behavioural detail . . . 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 a gratitude that happenstance can, once in a while, not screw up and find the right girl for the right boy.”
Financial  Times


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385532504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385532501
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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.

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