Must you go? : my life with Harold Pinter

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 story which disrupted two marriages and families, but endured for thirty-three and a half years until Pinter's death from cancer on December 24, 2008.

A long shot for a match were these two. She was the wife of a Tory Member of Parliament, with six children, Roman Catholic, from a long line of prodigious writers and scholars. He was married to the talented actress, Vivien Merchant, with one child, Jewish, from a working class background. For a time their romance was a scandal with the usual onslaught of journalists and paparazzi, but the relationship and eventual marriage endured with a full richness.

It is also a story replete with a who's who of the world, with friends and acquaintances in the arts, politics and various other professions. Between the two of them they knew so many other accomplished people and all of it is recounted with modesty and a sly sense of humor.

We learn a little about how each of them wrote, his cantankerousness and love of cricket, their shared political views, and always their love for each other. When facing his battle with cancer, which worsened near the time of his Nobel Award and their twenty-fifth anniversary, she said, "There is no doubt at all that our marriage is very, very, very . . . to the infinite degree happy beyond all expectations."

This is her memoir of their lives together, candid but considerate about the love and the heartache, told with joy and an implicit discretion about two lives intimately and passionately joined. Quite simply one woman's account of the life and love she shared with one man. Fraser states, "My Diary: it's not about great writing. It's my friend and my record and sometimes my consolation in the bad years . . ." Pinter, "Well, it's a great record of--us." Precisely!

For similar books, see LAPL Reads, Booklists, Memoirs of Friendship, Love and Loss.