Portrait of a Marriage

Antonia Fraser’s memoir of her 30-year marriage to Nobel Laureate and playwright Harold Pinter, Must You Go?, coming next week, is beginning to draw attention on this side of the pond.

Best known as the biographer of Marie Antoinette and The Wives of Henry VIII, Fraser began her relationship with Pinter when he asked her book’s eponymous question while they were both married to other people.

The New York Times says

Must You Go? is not a proper biography of Pinter, nor a remotely full account of Ms. Fraser’s own life. Instead it’s a book of glowing fragments, moments culled from Ms. Fraser’s diaries. The prose is not overly winsome. “My Diary: it’s not about great writing,” she admits. “It’s my friend, my record, and sometimes my consolation.” But there’s hardly a dull page.

But Entertainment Weekly is more impressed, giving it an “A”:

Fraser’s bold, intimate, madly entertaining memoir of the years with her late husband Harold Pinter. . . . [is] a tender portrait of an exciting marriage, and a deliciously detailed account of living in the thick of creativity and fame.

Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter
Antonia Fraser
Retail Price: $28.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese – (2010-11-02)
ISBN / EAN: 0385532504 / 9780385532501

More Notable Nonfiction

Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People by Amy Sedaris (Grand Central) is a farcical guide to crafting hobbies. Booklist says: “The true joy of this book lies in its hilarious and amazingly well-styled photo spreads, many featuring Sedaris in one of her uncanny disguises, including a teenager, an elderly shut-in, and Jesus. She devotes equal time to instruction on making homemade sausage, gift-giving, crafting safety, and lovemaking (aka “fornicrafting”).”

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester (Harper) chronicles the geological and sociopolitical history of the Atlantic Ocean. PW is less than impressed: “Although he does not neglect the chief tragedies of the Atlantic, like the slave trade and the maritime battles, Winchester occasionally flits beelike from scene to scene, and the facts become lost in a blur.”  But the Economist finds it more satisfying balanced.

Me by Ricky Martin (Celebra) is the memoir of a pop music superstar.

Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan (Doubleday) was previewed in USA Today this week, after very positive prepub reviews, including stars from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

They Call Me Baba Booey by Gary Dell’Abate and Chad Millman (Spiegel & Grau) recounts the early life and career of the Howard Stern Show producer.

Cake Boss: The Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia by Buddy Valastro (Free Press) is a memoir by the star of the TLC show. PW says “despite great technical descriptions, including his bakery’s cannoli recipe and photos of his spectacular cakes, Buddy’s tale of immigrant success proves too familiar.” Thousands of show fans may beg to differ.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese) is an examination of the books and book people that have had an effect on the novelist’s life.  The new issue of Entertainment Weekly gives it a just a B-; “Like a coal worker dutifully marching back down the mine shaft, Pat Conroy returns to the seemingly non-depletable source of most of his output: his own life…It’s hardly new terrain, but some of the chapters are still sweetly moving.”

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