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The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis

The Pregnant Widow (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Martin Amis

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356None30,550 (3.07)14
Title:The Pregnant Widow
Authors:Martin Amis
Info:Knopf (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, General Fiction, Audiobooks
Tags:Fiction, 21st Century, British

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The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (2010)

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
The pregnant widow is not a character, but rather a metaphor of Alexander Herzen's, one which pictures a societal condition in which a widely held meme (such as sexual inhibition) is discarded before a replacement is fully developed and adopted. Youth culture of the late '60's early '70's is a case in point, says Martin Amis, and he tells the story of a collection of 20-somethings (for the most part) sharing what could have been an idyllic summer vacation in a castle in Italy, but for their struggles to cope with rapidly changing attitudes toward sexual expression and the retrograde emotions that complicate the situation. The long and short of it (mostly the long) is that people screw it up (in all senses) and make a shambles of their lives in consequence. There are many good things here, especially for fans of Amis and his narrative and linguistic conjuring tricks. From what I've read about Amis, it appears that the central character shares much of the author's biography, in particular a younger, much beloved, sister who destroys herself with alcohol and promiscuity; but, curiously, this part of the story is particularly undernourished to the point of feeling like a useless appendage. Although I did not not enjoy the book, I did get impatient with the writing in a way that I haven't with the other Amis books I've read. The prose seems excessively photoshopped; too many of the sentences seem to have been set down raw and then "enhanced" by the addition of a pulchritudinous word or two that convey little while looking great. ( )
2 vote jburlinson | Mar 28, 2013 |
I did not like The Rachel Papers and, as a result, never read another Amis novel until this one. It started off well but then dragged on, becoming tedious. ( )
  AnnB2013 | Mar 14, 2013 |
By page 4 of this book I was chuckling! Oh the recognition! Oh the cynicism! BUT...
Keith Nearing reflects on the summer of 1970, when he and a group of friends holidayed in an Italian castle. The 1970's, in history, is recognised for the sexual freedom and boundaries broken by the younger generation. And yes , this is the focus of this book. The old adage of young men having one track minds is proven in this book and it became tiresome. The relevance of the title is revealed in the latter stages of the book. The summer lit the fuse for the rest of his life. However this book seemed far too long for its subject matter. A very disappointing read as I had read a positive review and it began with such promise. ( )
  HelenBaker | Feb 6, 2013 |
This is the first Amis book I have read, and I was completely baffled by it. The characters are shallow and unlikeable, and frankly quite ridiculous. The main protaganists are the age of 21, and as a 21-year-old myself I can tell you that this is not how they think or behave, regardless of what era they are set in. The entire book had a more than surreal quality to it, which unfortunately was just not to my taste - 90% of the book is set on a summer holiday in Italy spent perving over the girls. Once the novelty of this concept wears off it really gets very dull. I wasn't alive during the sexual/Feminist revolution, and can't claim to have any interest in it either, so perhaps this just wasn't my cup of tea. But putting my political and historical opinions aside, I just didn't enjoy the book. I found myself completely detached from the book, and found myself wanting to read on just so I could get to the end quicker and read something else. I couldn't help but feel that Amis was just trying to be too clever for his own good, and I didn't understand it on any level. Not my idea of fun in a book. Having said all of that, I wouldn't hesitate to try another Martin Amis out of sheer curiosity. I'm glad I read it from the point of view of it being one of those "books to read before you die", but having ticked the box I wouldn't be interested in reading it again. ( )
  snorer2 | Jun 18, 2012 |
As always with Martin Amis, this novel was well-written. However, in some ways I think I may be too young to appreciate it. It strikes me as an aging man's book about memory and time, and at age 30, I just don't think I "get" it (and isn't that part of the point of the way the book deals with the themes of age, time, change, etc.?).

Or maybe his evocation of these themes was too heavy-handed, causing me eventually to tune it out. I'll concede that Amis probably has many more insights about these themes than I do (both due to his greater age and much greater level of effortless erudition), but it won't lead me to reread this book in 30 years to find out if he was right.

Worth reading if you're already a fan, but not the place to introduce yourself to his work. ( )
  sansmerci | Jun 12, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
The fizzy, smart linguistic fireworks, with their signature italicisms, riffs on the language and stunningly clever, off-center metaphors are certainly evident in “The Pregnant Widow.” But this may not be the Roman candle of a novel some of his followers are looking for. Perhaps his next one will do the trick.
“The revolution was a velvet revolution, but it wasn’t bloodless; some came through, some more or less came through, and some went under”; although much of The Pregnant Widow feels – like the period it describes – pitched uncomfortably between two stools and styles, it also shows Amis growing into a new mode, as a chronicler of loss and uncomfortable metamorphosis. If his next novels continue in this vein, then this book’s own awkward transition will have been worthwhile.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin Amisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Асланян, АннаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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And great drunken bees, throbbing orbs that seemed to carry their own electrical resonance; when they collided with something solid—tree bole, statuary, flowerpot—they twanged back and away, the positive charge repelled by the positive.
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The year is 1970, and the youth of Europe are in the chaotic, ecstatic throes of the sexual revolution. Dedicated to the cause, its nubile foot soldiers have yet to realize this disturbing truth: between the death of one social order and the birth of another, there exists a state of terrifying purgatory - or, a "pregnant widow." Spending college vacation with his peers in a castle in Italy, Keith Nearing will find the tragicomedy that ensues will change his life forever. (Bestseller)… (more)

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