Must You Go? by Antonia Frasier

Must You Go?
By Antonia Frasier
336 pages, $28.95 
Nan A. Talese, November 2, 2010

 Award winning writer Lady Antonia Frasier had “met” playwright Harold Pinter several times before they both found themselves guests at a dinner party on January 8, 1975. Lady Antonia’s life would change when, as she was leaving the party, she heard Pinter say to her “Must you go?”

These three words started their relationship and inspired the title of this book. In Must You Go? we see the relationship span over thirty years and we see them through their separate divorces. Lady Antonia, best known for her Mary, Queen of Scots biography and her Jemima Shore fictional series, was married to Sir Hugh Frasier, an MP in the House of Lords. Pinter was married to actress Vivian Merchant. It was over five years before both divorces were final. Pinter and Frasier had been living together for about three years by then.

The subtitle for this book is My Life with Harold Pinter, so fittingly the diary posts begin with their meeting in 1975 and close when Pinter’s long struggle with cancer ends on Christmas Eve, 2008.  Knowing that Frasier is an award winning author, I expected more.  It wasn’t until I put the book down for several days and then picked it up again, that I appreciated it for what it is.  It’s the bits and snags of happenings that make up our lives. There is a lot of the expected name dropping and the attending of fabulous events that one would expect from people in their circle, but that does not take away from the story of their lives. Frasier relates these people and their activities as you and I would relate going to dinner with friends, because that’s exactly what they are. Their friends just happen to be the well known and the famous in the “glitterati world” they lived in.

Frasier’s artistry with words comes to light with the minimal use of flowery prose. There’s no need to embellish their relationship. It began as the stuff of tabloid front pages, however Frasier always goes with the simple truth. She writes from the heart as well as the soul, keeping in mind that all too often everyone’s life is messy and disarranged. Theirs was out there for public consumption. She and Pinter got past the ugliness and pain.

What’s left are indeed the bits and snags, the things jotted down as a remembrance to place the happenings of a particular day or time. And we’re all the better that she did save her diary and ultimately decided to share the bits of her life with Pinter in a quiet and respectful way.

I enjoyed Frasier’s Must You Go? and do recommend it. If I gave stars, I’d give it 3 ½ out of 5.

Source: This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review.  

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