MUST YOU GO? by Antonia Fraser

MUST YOU GO?

My Life with Harold Pinter

KIRKUS REVIEW

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. 2nd, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-385-53250-1
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2010




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