Saturday, November 20, 2010

Guilty Weekend Reading. . .

It's been a bit of a tough week and I'm not moving as fast through Doctor Zhivago as I'd like, so I've taken a break to indulge in some guilty celebrity-peeping.  I recently finished Antonia Fraser's Must You Go?, her memoir of her thirty-plus years living with Harold Pinter, who is one of my favourite playwrights.  Drawn from her diaries and personal memories, it reads a bit like a carefully selected (and edited) whirlwind through their lives, but with lots of interesting name-dropping (if you are a fan of the theatre, there are some great stories).  What does impress is how romantic Harold was, always sending her flowers and writing and reciting love poems.  And it definitely made me dig out some Pinter plays for a re-read.  England seems to excel at successful literary pairings - Michael Holroyd and Margaret Drabble, Michael Frayn and Claire Tomalin, Richard Holmes and Rose Tremain to name a few - perhaps because each of these writers mostly excels in a different genre from their partner.

For a look at more torturous literary couplings, I've just started Ivana Lowell's memoir Why Not Say What Happened? She is the daughter of Caroline Blackwood whose own tempestuous life I got interested in after reading Great Granny Webster for my NYRB challenge.  Her father was Ivan Moffat, Hollywood screenwriter and the son of Iris Tree, the bohemian actress and writer who modeled for many of the Bloomsbury painters. Her stepfather was the American poet Robert Lowell.  Ivana's grandmother Maureen was the one that Noel Coward wrote about in his song "I Went to a Marvellous Party".  I'm only a few chapters in, but the book promises quite a lot of aristocratic parties with famous people, much drinking and subsequent bad behaviour.  The New York Times reviewed it this weekend here.

And yes, I also have the latest edition of Hello magazine - the one with Kate and Wills on the cover.  Anyone else think it's rather creepy that he gave her Diana's engagement ring? It wasn't exactly a symbol of the happiest of unions, was it now?

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