Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter

Antonia Fraser

Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser lived together from August 1975 until his death thirty-three years later on Christmas Eve 2008. This memoir of their time together invites you inside one of modern literature's most talked-about marriages. Must You Go? is based partly on Antonia Fraser's own diaries, which she has kept since October 1968 when she suffered withdrawal symptoms after finishing her first historical biography, Mary Queen of Scots. Antonia Fraser has also used her own recollections, both immediate reactions (she always writes her Diary the next morning, unless otherwise noted) and memories. She has quoted Pinter where he told her things about his past, once again noting the source, and has occasionally quoted his friends talking to her on the same subject. Intriguingly her Diaries always pay special attention to any green shoots where Pinter's writing is concerned, perhaps a consequence of a biographer living with a creative artist and observing the process first hand. 3.9 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography
Format Hardback
Pages 360
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication January 2010
ISBN 978-0297859710
Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson
 

Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser lived together from August 1975 until his death thirty-three years later on Christmas Eve 2008. This memoir of their time together invites you inside one of modern literature's most talked-about marriages. Must You Go? is based partly on Antonia Fraser's own diaries, which she has kept since October 1968 when she suffered withdrawal symptoms after finishing her first historical biography, Mary Queen of Scots. Antonia Fraser has also used her own recollections, both immediate reactions (she always writes her Diary the next morning, unless otherwise noted) and memories. She has quoted Pinter where he told her things about his past, once again noting the source, and has occasionally quoted his friends talking to her on the same subject. Intriguingly her Diaries always pay special attention to any green shoots where Pinter's writing is concerned, perhaps a consequence of a biographer living with a creative artist and observing the process first hand.

Read an extract from the book at MailOnline

John Crace's Digested Read -- The Guardian

Reviews

The Financial Times

Dominic Dromgoole

This book does little to reduce their mystery but somehow manages to make their happiness seem perfectly natural, two people with an appetite for life and wine and truth and knowledge as avid as their appetite for each other. 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.

15/01/2010

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The Spectator

Sam Leith

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.

13/01/2010

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The Guardian

Blake Morrison

Those hoping for bedroom tattle will be disappointed. The book is intimate without being confessional, and on certain subjects – Pinter's estrangement from his son, for example, or her children's initial reaction to the break-up of her marriage – she prefers to say nothing. But she's not so discreet as to be dull, and there's a lot of humour.

16/01/2010

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The Observer

Rachel Cooke

Her diaries, which comprise the majority of the text, have an infuriatingly excised quality. Determined only to "call back yesterday" so far as Harold is concerned, she reveals next to nothing about her thousands of famous acquaintances… On the subject of life with Harold, however, Fraser's memoir is also unremittingly delicious: strange, rarefied, frequently hilarious.

17/01/2010

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The Daily Telegraph

Charles Spencer

Moving and compellingly readable… Fraser doesn’t gloss over Pinter’s faults… The middle section of the book, describing their contented lives, their globe-trotting, the political campaigning and their fawning admirers, is a touch dull. But the book is deeply moving in its closing section

14/01/2010

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The Sunday Times

Robert Harris

Her admiration of Pinter is boundless. “The half of Harold which is not Beckett is Hemingway…”, “Harold of course reads brilliantly…”, “Harold’s naturally brilliant brain...”, “Harold’s broadcast on Tuesday was icily brilliant...”, “Harold brilliantly takes off his spectacles...”. These are the words of a writer’s second wife if ever I read them.

17/01/2010

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The Daily Express

Duncan Fallowell

Naturally her portrait of Pinter is highly partial. She refers to his “savage melancholy” but his legendary ghastliness is pretty much sponged away. Otherwise I more or less went along with her account until near the end something occurred which I am obliged to mention. I found myself popping up in the narrative in terms so daft, so not-me, that confidence in the whole book was shattered at a stroke and one is forced to ask oneself: how much of the rest of it is daft too?

15/01/2010

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