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The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis

The Pregnant Widow (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Martin Amis

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4241724,938 (3.12)17
Title:The Pregnant Widow
Authors:Martin Amis
Info:Knopf (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (2010)


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English (15)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All (17)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I read this when I was younger, and I loved it. I loved the atmosphere and the gradual unfurling of the plot and some of the character arcs. If I had rated it back in the day, I might've given it 4 of 5 stars.

But now, Martin Amis and I have a complex relationship. I was so perplexed when people would say that they didn't like him as a writer.

Despite the fact that he's a really good writer, I don't like or necessarily agree with the way he often writes female characters anymore. His representation of women can be quite problematic and not entirely fully-formed.

He writes in a world all entirely his own, where women act or react a certain way, and men are allowed to explore themselves and their sexual fantasies or obsessions without any great repercussions, (particularly in this book).

I think my reading tastes have just changed in the past few years since I read this book last. There's something I just can't quite put my finger on that bothers me about this book.

I wouldn't read it again, but I might read more of Amis' work in the future (though a lot more critically).

(Oh, I think there's a trigger warning for a non-consensual scene involving some sort of date-rape drug, so be careful there.) ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
A compulsively readable book. Great characters, very clever. A great read, but a rather weak ending. ( )
  sberson | Jun 13, 2014 |

Summer, 1970. Sex is very much on everyone's mind.

The girls are acting like boys and the boys are going on acting like boys. Keith Nearing - a bookish twenty-year-old, in that much disputed territory between five foot six and five foot seven - is on holiday and struggling to twist feminism towards his own ends. Torn between three women, his scheming doesn't come off quite as he expects.

I wasn’t especially looking forward to reading this, particularly after the recent train-wreck that was House Of Meetings – an absolute stinker of a book, in my opinion. However, whilst I wasn’t exactly dazzled by Mr Amis this time around, it was mostly readable and enjoyable – insofar as I didn’t loathe it - in an average-that-passed-some-time fashion, now what’s for tea?

Amis writes about the 70’s and in particular the experiences of 20 year-old Keith on a vacation to Italy with a group of friends. The story revolves around Keith and his efforts to make the most of the increasing sexual freedoms enjoyed by the younger generation. ie he spends half the summer and a lot of the book trying to get it on with his girlfriend’s friend Scheherazade.

Keith, an English literature student, also gives Amis the opportunity to dissect the great English novel, with constant references to characters in books by DH Lawrence and others. Never having been that interested in this prose of this period, these constant references were for me the dullest and most irritating parts of the book. I possibly dozed off at these points, and therefore can’t recall with absolute clarity what other literary giants were mentioned.

The latter part of the book, updates us with Keith and his life; his recent relationships and woes – again not too interesting for me.

Re-reading the above, I’m kind of scratching my head as to what I enjoyed about this; probably Keith’s pursuit of Scheherazade and the tension caused by the will he - won’t he scenario.

Another useless piece of trivia - one of the characters, Keith’s sister Violet is based on Amis’s deceased sister Sally, so in parts the book is semi-autobiographical.

3 from 5 for The Pregnant Widow - hopefully all of the other 10 or so Amis on the TBR pile will entertain me more, when I get to them.

Purchased late 2011, from one of the plethora of second-hand retailers on-line.

( )
  col2910 | Apr 17, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (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.

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin Amisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pacey, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome 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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