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 notes and scribbles to tell the story. For me, it doesn’t. Perhaps because the initial sets of content seemed mainly to consist of who they went to dinner with – which doesn’t interest me as I am not one of those celebrity followers. And for me, seems to be a form of bragging even if it was her life at the time.
However, I did find out some good things, which I hadn’t known before:
- Harold Pinter (her husband), acted, directed, and wrote screen plays as well as poetry and theatre plays;
- Harold was extremely left-wing and championed those who were fighting dictators;
- The couple were fiercely anti the Iraq war (and thus not friends with Tony Blair);
- Antonia Fraser has written a crime series as well as historical biographies; (just where does she find the time!!?;
- There was an incestuous crow of luvvies who found work for each other – there was an in-crowd.
I also investigated the illness pemphigus as Harold suffered from it. It seems it is an auto-immune disease that affects the skin and mucous membranes. There are 3 variants. It was first described I the 1960s and there are 0.68 people affected for every 100,000, so rare. It mostly affects women and the older population and Ashkenazi Jews are especially prone. It is triggered by environmental factors that include stress, tumours and nutrition. There is a mortality rate with treatment of 12& but age and frailty and the drug side effects can cause a higher risk of death.
Overall I gave the book 2.5/3 stars. The original rating was the beginning of the book. It got better and more interesting in later sections but you did need perseverance to get to it. I only persevered because it was chosen for my book club.