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Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  735 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews

A moving and exquisite testament to one of the literary world’s most celebrated marriages: that of the greatest playwright of our age, Harold Pinter, and the beautiful and famous prize-winning biographer Antonia Fraser.

Based on Fraser’s recollections and the diaries she has kept since October 1968, Must You Go? is the story of a thirty-year marriage, beginning with their i
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Anchor (first published 2010)
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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoir of a marriage between two people at the top of the literary game who had spouses, six children between them when they met, but cared more for each other than them. After their first meeting Pinter said to the author, "Must you go?" and the lust became an affair became marriage. 33 years of being in love, not just loving.

True love sometimes involves hurting others, when should we do our duty and when should we be true to ourselves? Antonia Fraser never addresses this or any other question
Jenny Brown
Mar 24, 2011 Jenny Brown rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Real Housewives of Literary London.

I have rarely been this disappointed in a book. If reading a daytimer gets you off, you'll love it. But if you want to know what people were thinking and feeling while committing adultery, leaving their 6 kids behind, and dining with the rich famous, you're out of luck.

The author gives us no insight into why she fell so in love and her behavior comes across as selfish and blind to the needs of others. She drops names without any explanation of who they might be
Fred Moramarco
Feb 12, 2011 Fred Moramarco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hemingway wrote somewhere that when two people are deeply in love, it is
Inevitable that their story will end in tragedy, since one will quite likely out-
live the other. I've been thinking about this recently because in the last few years I've read a handful of books by widows who were in deeply reciprocated love relationships and who write about those relationships in retrospect with great affection and a deep sense of loss. These books include Joan Didion's The Year of Living Dangerously, Sandr
Feb 25, 2011 Leendert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
precious precious people. started out well, but i was annoyed beyond belief by the end of it. finishing this book was a chore and perhaps a way of making sure i'll remember never to read anything about pinter again.

maybe that's a bit strong.

but really - a guy who labors for days over those sort of poems included in the memoir and can still win a nobel, albeit as a playwright, really?

the whole thing of screeching for the rights of the repressed and dispossessed, whilst living a life of luxury, d
Kasa Cotugno
Who can resist a rollicking, passionate love story, but even more so, when the characters are vital, alive and have so many dimensions as this karmic couple. Antonia Fraser and Harold Pinter are level headed, famous and accomplished, married quite happily to others, when they meet in 1975 and are immediately transfixed, experiencing an instant magnetism that blazes off the page. The words in the haunting title, "Must You Go," were actually spoken from him to her that fateful night following an o ...more
Dec 01, 2010 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Please call her "Lady" Antonia, after all, her father was an Earl. She relates that she was quite relieved when at a dinner party the host correctly sat her to his right; the rightful place for the daughter of an Earl. Did she mention she is the daughter of an Earl? No doubt a fascinating life, lived around the best and the brightest. But this person is everything wrong with the British class system. Not a mention about how leaving her six (6!) small children might have affected them. Hmmmm. Gue ...more
Sep 06, 2010 Kayleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs-bios, arc
I only finished this book because I owe a review for the ARC. Ugh! 300+ pages of self-important boring diary entires and endless name dropping. I've never read any of her books before, and based on this, never will again!
Sep 05, 2015 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there’s one thing you walk away with after reading Antonia Fraser’s memoir Must You Go, My Life with Harold Pinter, it’s that she and her second husband Harold Pinter were deeply in love. Reading a memoir that doesn’t focus exclusively on tribulations its author has overcome is refreshing. Remarkable, even. Fraser has chosen to share what appears to be the happiest period of her life. And in the process proves Tolstoy wrong.

At a party in 1975 Antonia Fraser was involved in a conversation that
Mark Farley
Jan 31, 2014 Mark Farley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tender and warm, fascinating narrated memoir, with extracts from her extensive diaries, this historian recounts her long marriage with the poet Harold Pinter, eventually documenting his fight with, and eventual death, from cancer.

While not the usual type of book that I read, I had a vested interest as I have met both subjects a few times working at their local branch of Waterstones. Not only were they regular customers during my years there, but I did a reading event for Antonia about a year
Dec 20, 2015 Carole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I was curious about this powerful and controversial literary couple. She is a noted historian (Mary, Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette) and he the Nobel Laureate playwright, director, actor, and political activist. Must You Go? was the plea uttered by Pinter at his first, infatuated meeting with Antonia Fraser. Both were married, she to a member of Parliament with whom she had borne six children; he to a famous actress for whom he had written plays. Their subsequent love affair broke up both marr ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Callie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thank Antonia Fraser for writing this book and taking me places. If I couldn't be married to my own current dearly beloved husband, I sure would enjoy being married to a Nobel prize-winning playwright. If you read this, you will mostly be treated to her journal entries and find out things like what plays they attended, where they ate dinner, (and with what famous people) and how his writing is going and how her writing is going. You must know that. So it's not the story of the marriage, per se ...more
Seth Mann
I enjoyed following the ebb and flow of Harold Pinter's and Antonia Fraser's 30+ years together. Fraser has successfully and naturally documented how they dedicated their lives to sharing myriad successes, failures, joys and hardships. Fraser maintains an honesty and matter-of-factness throughout. This not only makes their love feel familiar but also humanizes the circles in which Pinter and Fraser circulate - circles populated with an extraordinary cast of political leaders, intelligentsia, aut ...more
Sep 14, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
MUST YOU GO tells the tale of a then, scandalous affair, in British literary circles. The affair ended in a long marriage between Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser (after they divorced their other spouses) and is told in the most decorous of language. Written from Fraser's diary entries beginning in 1975, it describes the lusty thunderbolt that struck these two literary lights and continued forever. It is fun to read. A memoir, the tale is rife with ever-so-many plays begun and written; directed; ...more
Antonia Fraser, born in London in 1932, is a Brit of privilege ("Lady" Antonia Fraser); historian; successful writer in various genres (non-fiction includes The Weaker Vessel, The Warrior Queens, Marie Antoinette; detective fiction includes Quiet as a Nun and other Jemima Shore books); mother of six children by first husband Sir Hugh Fraser (b. 1918) who was an MP in The House of Commons from 1945-1984 and step-mother of one by her second husband, the 1975 Nobel Laureate/playwright and screenwr ...more
Oct 18, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had forgotten that Antonia Fraser had written a memoir of her life with Harold Pinter. So when I opened a present from one of our neighbours at Christmas and found "Must You Go", I was both surprised and delighted. It is actually a wonderful story of their thirty three years together. What started as an affair in 1975 became a marriage which is described as a wonderful love story until Harold's death in 2008. The book is based on Antonia's diaries, and these are quoted verbatim with occasional ...more
Sep 04, 2011 Mam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was there ever a better, or more bittersweet title for a widow's memoir? Fraser tells us she chose her title because it was what Harold Pinter asked her as she left after their first encounter. A lovely arc.

I wanted the memoir to be as lovely as the title suggested, especially because Fraser says she complied most of the memoir from the diaries she kept throughout their long marriage. After all, this is the story of two married prominent people, one the mother of six children, who were so besott
Dec 30, 2011 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seldom have I read a book so filled with literary references. They are on every page and, while Antonia Fraser's memoir of her life with Harold Pinter is lightweight, it is intellectually charged with interesting bits of flotsam and jetsam from the literary world of a couple who were immersed in literary lives and lights.
It was while at a social gathering in 1975 that Ms. Fraser walked up to Pinter, before leaving, to say that she liked his play, “The Birthday Party.” The two barely knew each o
Apr 17, 2011 Judy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Antonia Fraser was a respected author, wife of a Conservative Member of Parliament, and the mother of six children and Harold Pinter was a celebrated playwright, married to a well-known actress, and father of a son when they met in 1975. They fell in love, quickly divorced their spouses, and married. Their love story lasted for 33 years until Pinter's death in 1975. This memoir of their love story is based on Fraser' diaries. While it details their activities and literary successes over their pe ...more
Elizabeth Bradley
Bought this for my mom for Christmas; someone else bought it for her, so I grabbed the non-gift copy and read it during the hols. Came away with a few realizations:

1. Fraser doth protest too much: she IS a Mitford character come to life.
2. I really need to be better acquainted with Pinter's work.
3. London is a small town if you're a literato.
4. Their love was profound, home-wrecking, poem-making, enduring, gorgeous etc. and I don't mean to diminish it in any way but it was so clearly made possib
Sylvia Valevicius
Apr 24, 2016 Sylvia Valevicius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
The subjects of this memoir -Antonia Fraser and her love - second husband Harold Pinter - held my interest because they were a pair of erudite, prolific writers and political activists. She, a passionate historical biographer, and he, just as passionate, an actor, poet and playwright extraordinaire.

Fraser's 'name-dropping', in her own circles, naturally comfortable for her, a woman with a title; these aristocratic friends of Lady Antonia were unfamiliar to me, but allowed me a look into their s
Must You Go?
Antonia Fraser
A diary and reflections on a privileged life with an exceptional man for a husband and luvvies for friends - not to mention six children!
So this is Antonia Fraser writing about her own life for a change rather someone else’s and using her diaries as the mainstay of the book. And this to me is where the book fell down. When Antonia Fraser writes her historical memoirs she researches them in great depth - too much depth for me in some of them - but here she relies on her
Corinne Higgins
Feb 21, 2014 Corinne Higgins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's very clear that there is a reason interesting and intelligent people tend to congregate and that is because without each other, they wither. The value of these relationships enriches Ms. Fraser's lovely memoir, which is both a diary and a loving song to her now deceased husband. Beginning with the evening they met and ending with his death, her diary entries tell a story of their love, clear to them both immediately, that only grows over the next 33 years.

The diary is edited for thematic c
Nov 27, 2010 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I completely changed my mind about this book half way through. At first I was disappointed that it was pages from Antonia Fraser's diary, and full of name dropping. They were, after all, a very famous couple. The title comes from one of their first conversations when she is about to leave a party, and he says "Must you go?" This is really an extraordinary love story told with lots of compassion and history, so in the end, I quite liked it.
LAPL Reads
Jan 29, 2014 LAPL Reads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes true love does not take hold at a convenient time, does not make sense to outsiders or create good sense in those whom it grabs and spins around in a whirl of emotion, and so it was with Lady Antonia Fraser, historian and novelist, and Harold Pinter, playwright, director and actor. When they met briefly at a dinner party, January 8, 1975, Fraser said, ". . .now I'm off." Pinter asked, "Must you go?" The answer was no and thus the title and remembrance, in diary format, of their love st ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Emma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Harold Pinter emerges from this memoir as a very intelligent, creative and thoroughly decent man and it is a pleasure to read his poems and learn of his personal life; unfortunately the book also fostered in me a deep dislike of his wife and its writer, Antonia Fraser. In her own diary entries, which form the bulk of the narrative, she comes across as a selfish, vain, unpleasant snob, which greatly hindered my enjoyment of the book. Her union with Pinter was clearly one of enormous and enduring ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Melinda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
oh, I really liked both of them before reading this book. remember Holly Hunter's anguished response to the sarcastic question..."it must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room"???
Apr 27, 2011 Rory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs-and-bios
Yay for getting back to reading! This was a bit of dazzle, incredibly romantic, somehow both real and unreal, will be loved by suckers for love and folks interested in geniuses, and Anglophiles.
Lori Ann
Jan 15, 2011 Lori Ann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Please, please go. Life is too short for me to finish reading about the irresponsible, navel-gazing, drivel of these two. They just seem to live in some alternate universe.
Kaitlyn Barrett
I smell things while I read this book. Super heated pavement, sand and tropical water, 70’s deodorant, sweat, cigarette smoke, sweet perfumes, aqua net hairspray. And she never talks about smells. But this book is so very much of the 70s without much visual description that I feel like I’m there with my eyes closed. It’s romantic and heart breaking to think of them leaving their partners for each other. I like her turns of phrase like the comment that she “narrowing missed being extinguished by ...more
Only 15 pages in, but already I want to devote my life (OK, well the next week) to reading this book.
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
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