A preview-review of The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital by Alexandra Robbins, which will be released on April 21, 2015.
Tag Archives: drama
One Day: A Novel by David Nicholls (Vintage, $14.95, 448 pages; Random House Audio, $19.99, 13 compact discs)
If ever there was a clear-cut category for One Day, “dramedy” is where it belongs. By now it’s likely that the book, audio book and movie have been enjoyed by countless tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people. The story thread is not really new. A similar example this reviewer recalls is Same Time Next Year. In the play and movie of the same name, a couple’s thrown together by chance, has a romantic encounter and agrees to meet on the same weekend each year. They do so for 24 years.
One Day revisits the main characters, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew each year on the 15th of July, St. Swithin’s Day, for 20 years following their graduation from Edinburgh University in Scotland. Emma and Dexter spend graduation night together at the beginning of this saga. Dexter is a beautiful young man from a well-to-do family who enjoys being admired and bedded by many women. Emma, on the other hand, comes from a lower-class background and is significantly brighter academically than Dexter. However, her life experience and confidence are seriously lacking which does not bode well for her success in life.
Post-graduation finds them in London. Dexter exudes confidence and is highly photogenic which lands him a job as a TV show host while Emma toils away at menial jobs including as a waitress and eventually the manager of a Tex-Mex restaurant. Their annual check-ins prove to be both funny and poignant.
The years roll by and it is clear that both Emma and Dexter are good friends, although Emma is clearly more devoted to Dexter than he to her. Let’s face it, Dexter is devoted to Dexter. On St. Swithin’s Day their lives don’t always intersect, although Nicholls provides the reader with ample evidence of how each is managing life.
This novel has been reviewed twice previously on this site. The prior reviews were written based on the hard copy. This review is based on the unabridged audio book. The word “unabridged” is key here because, unlike the book, the movie version is highly abridged and offers little more than snapshots of some of the July 15th episodes. This reviewer is grateful to have heard the audio version prior to viewing the movie because the film was no more than a shallow glimpse into the characters’ actions. Sadly, the serious and deeply moving aspects of the book were lost in the movie version.
Author Nicholls is a genius at dialogue and fortunately for this reviewer, the audio version was captivating. Anna Bentinck lends her talents to the character voices and manages to do a good job on both the men and women’s parts.
The audio book was purchased by the reviewer’s husband.
Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser (Nan A. Talese; $28.95; 336 pages)
Lady Antonia Fraser has produced a memoir that is a loving and memorable tribute to the late Nobel prize-winning playwright, screenwriter and poet, Harold Pinter. Fraser happened to meet Pinter while he was married to his first wife. They spent many hours talking until Pinter indicated that it would be wise for him to return to his home. This was when Fraser, who was also married, asked him, “Must you go?” Pinter stayed and this, for all practical purposes, was the beginning of the 33-year-period that they spent together – first as an unofficial couple and then as married partners.
The reader never doubts the accuracy of the events recounted in this memoir, as it was based on Fraser’s daily diary entries (most of which were read by Pinter). Fraser admits that married life was not without conflict, although they made it a rule to never go to bed angry… Sometimes this meant going to sleep just before daybreak. And Fraser admits to never quite knowing or understanding the genius that her husband embodied. At one point a Washington Post reporter asked her a somewhat absurd question, “What is Harold Pinter like about the house, all those pauses and enigmatic statements, I’ve always wondered?” Fraser’s response was, “Keep wondering.”
“Living with Harold the writer was a rewarding experience since he behaved exactly like artists behave in books but seldom do in real life.”
Pinter was to find true happiness with Fraser, the love of his life but it may well have affected his creativity. His initial marriage resulted in several successful plays that revolved around, in Pinter’s words, “unhappy frozen married relationships.” As he was to admit to Antonia, “Happiness is not dramatic.” But Pinter was to find a new outlet for his energies and his intellect, and this was in taking positions on the world’s political issues. He was, in a sense, like John Lennon who took strong positions on war and peace even though he knew it alienated many. Lennon was to say that this was just the way he was. Fraser writes of Pinter that, “…he took for granted what we might euphemistically call his outspokenness and could not quite see why other people sometimes objected.”
Pinter was to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at a time, late in his life, when he was too ill to attend the award ceremony. But he took an ambulance to a television studio in London where he videotaped his acceptance speech. It seemed that the discontented Prodigal Son had finally been called home.
“Harold and I now love each other more than ever, now and forever.”
If the first two-thirds of Must You Go? chronicles the adventurous life of a man of letters, than the last third documents the struggle of a man who fought cancer and survived it in his seventies, only to eventually lose the good fight. This last third is a tale of bravery and self-pride and triumph. Pinter was to leave this mortal coil but only when his body had completely failed him – he never lost his mind nor his heart. Pinter died on Christmas Eve of 2008. His life justified the line in one of his favorite poems by Philip Larkin, “What will survive of us is love.”
This review was written by Joseph Arellano. A review copy was provided by the publisher. Must You Go? was released by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday on November 2, 2010.