A devoted, respectful tribute.

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MUST YOU GO?

MY LIFE WITH HAROLD PINTER

A moving compilation of diary entries written during the course of an artistically fruitful three-decade partnership.

Playwright Harold Pinter died from cancer in 2008, soon after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Historical biographer and novelist Fraser (Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King, 2006, etc.) has edited her diary entries reflecting their compatible life together. Both were in their early 40s and married to other people when they met at a dinner party on Jan. 8, 1975. The two moved in “different worlds”—Fraser, a Catholic aristocrat by birth, was the wife of Tory MP Hugh Fraser, had six children and some years before published her first bestselling history, Mary Queen of Scots; and Pinter, the only child of a Jewish working-class family, had already become wealthy and famous since his 1960 play The Caretaker, and was married to actress Vivien Merchant, with whom he had a son. Their coup de foudre sundered their respective marriages; Vivien descended into alcoholism, Hugh into blithe bachelorhood, as characterized by Fraser, and neither lived many years longer. Pinter embarked on works such as BetrayalMoonlight and an increasingly political vision; she on novels and celebrated biographies of Charles II and Marie Antoinette, among others. Together they buzzed among the celebrity bees of the age, from London to New York, captured in precious cameos—e.g., Samuel Beckett, Laurence Olivier, Salman Rushdie, Jackie Kennedy, then-child actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Vaclav Havel. They married in 1980, and Fraser reveals delightful details of their writerly life together, such as that Pinter only wrote when struck by inspiration and liked to read his work out loud, and both were voracious readers. Throughout, she celebrates her love for Pinter. “I always wanted to know a genius,” she writes. “I was lured, compelled by a superior force, something drawn out of me by him, which was simply irresistible.”

A devoted, respectful tribute.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-53250-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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