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The Pregnant Widow [Kindle Edition]

Martin Amis
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

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.

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Product Description


"hugely entertaining" (Frances Wilson The Daily Telgraph, Review)


"The Pregnant Widow is . . . Amis's finest novel for a long time. It is close to a masterpiece. . . . Read it: it is hilarious, often wonderfully perceptive, uncompromisingly ambitious and written by a great master of the English language. In a time when many of our novelists are hedging their bets, Amis is gloriously undaunted."
"-- Financial Times
"Beautifully achieved, cunningly relaxed, and reveals considerable emotional depth in its last pages."
"--Ottawa Citizen"

"This clever novel deserves a Booker prize."
"--The Guardian"

"Fine and hilarious.... Amis at his absolute and unique best."
"--The Economist"

"Amis is one of the true original voices to come along in the last 40 years. 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."
"--The New York Times Book Review"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 573 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0676977820
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (31 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #103,508 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Martin Amis is the author of ten novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories and six collections of non-fiction. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 95 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less of the Amis dazzle than usual 9 April 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Let me first say that I am a Martin Amis fan from way back. I have read - and I own - every book he has written (assuming, of course, that the ever-elusive Invasion of the Space Invaders does not really exist), and my wife gets tired of the War against Cliché I insist stays on the dresser no matter what. You get the idea. Now.

As usual, plot is not really a Martin Amis concern. What we get here is a camera focusing its hard stare on a cloistered (I think that word unusually apt) set of young people spending a hot 1970s summer in a castle in Italy. Wikipedia has the following to say about his 1975 book Dead Babies: " [the novel] has a typically "sixties" plot, with a house full of characters who use various substances.". Here, by contrast, we get a castle full of characters who "use" and/or think about sex. They use and/or think about sex for, oh, I'd say a good 350 of the 460 pages. The remainder of the book relates what happens later to various characters - particularly what happens to the main protagonist Keith. Plotwise, the extended castle introversion is, in my opinion, just no good. It is just flimsy scaffolding for Amis's language, and a very long setup for the final bit which does have a plot that truly engages. Martin Amis has indicated that to know the man - the life - will not affect the art, but here he works hard to dispel this notion. If you know something about his background, and more particularly about the fate of his sister Sally, then the veil between art and life, in the final 100 pages, seems but a mere ripple. This makes the final part of the book intensely sad - I'd go so far as to say that its pathos actually salvages the work.

You don't buy a Martin Amis novel for plot but for style and theme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Amis must be doing something right - I managed to read this book to the end, and found I just about continued to care about some of the characters, even the relatively minor ones.

I found myself laughing out loud at the "one-liners" in the early part of the book, but thereafter the wit faded. The main "Italian holiday" section had plenty of potential for amusement, intrigue and sex, and yet Amis only partially delivers - although there's obviously some clever irony in the fact that the reader (and the main protagonist Keith) is never quite satisfied, and never reaches the spectacular sex scene - at least, not in the way we (and Keith) imagine it.

Where the novel mainly falls down, however, is in its spectacular pretentiousness. Keith's early witticisms eventually turn into dull showing off (on his and Amis's part) as he ploughs his way through the English novel, author by author (presumably for his studies). And Amis's attempts to explore his (Keith's) emotional and sexual life eventually become so convoluted, alienating and unengaging that you wonder why you ever warmed to him as a character. I started off by recognizing something of myself and my life in the characters, but that feeling soon dissipated.

Of course, all the pretentiousness may be ironic, knowing, arch, or whatever - but ultimately you end up not caring. Sometimes an author pulls the rug from under you so many times the effect becomes tarnished.

The structure, too, eventually falls flat, as if Amis were trying to cram too much detail into the series of truncated chapters at the end, having produced an overlong first section.

What the book did do, however, in addition to amusing me, was challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone. Those are the reasons why you should read it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boys will be boys - and so will the girls 14 Mar. 2011
By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER
If you can get over the envy of a privileged sex-filled summer of the middle class youth and the author who wears his intelligence strongly in his writing style, then there are moments of brilliance and a return to form in this very male analysis of the sexual revolution of the 1970s.

The bulk of "The Pregnant Widow" is set in the summer of 1970 in a beautiful Italian castle where the almost 21 year old Keith Nearing, an English Literature student, has come to spend the summer with his on/off girlfriend Lily and her more physically attractive best friend Scheherazade. Amongst the other attendees are a gay couple, an short Italian suitor to the ample chested Scheherezade who is waiting for the arrival of her boyfriend and, critically for the story the ample bottomed Gloria and eventually her rich boyfriend. If this all sounds like one of those enviously indulgent, middle class, sex filled summer of love stories, then partly it is, but this being Martin Amis, there's a lot more depth and sadness attached to the story. It's an investigation into the changing roles of females and particularly their attitudes to sex, and for Keith in particular, the long term implications of this idyllic vacation are not going to be happy and Amis provides a `what happened next' to bring each of his characters up to present day.

Martin Amis' novels are always stylish and original. In his early career he could be quite brilliant but for me at least, his recent novels have not quite sustained this promise and have been more `interesting' than brilliant. With "The Pregnant Widow" there is something of a return to form, not least because he is returning to his best subject areas; namely sex, humour and the self-pitying, British male who is filled with guilt.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Original, pretentious, too many long words, humourous ...
Original,pretentious,too many long words,humourous.
Published 1 month ago by MrsEAParker
3.0 out of 5 stars MARTIN MARTIN...WE NEED A RETURN TO FORM.....
Published 6 months ago by The Ancient Mariner
3.0 out of 5 stars Surface will tend to supersede essence
Much of this is not a pleasant or particularly insightful read. It is a mixture of hilarious crudity and highly intelligent wordiness. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Whats not to like about Martin Amis
Published 8 months ago by David Walsh
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful beyond words.
To paraphrase my old English Lit teacher - "Amis is inebriated by his own verbose pomposity." Or to put it another way, "The Pregnant Widow" is a hollow, pretentious and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by P. M. Stoddart
1.0 out of 5 stars I am persevering with this book-I'm not sure for how ...
I am persevering with this book-I'm not sure for how much longer, but I do find it extremely irritating and not I am not v interested in these silly characters.
Published 10 months ago by Deborah BaldingBrittain
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Very disappointing. Autobiographical I believe and almost needing a dictionary to read.
Published 12 months ago by J.E.REYNOLDS
4.0 out of 5 stars Ode to 37-23-33 :had we but worlds enough and time.
Martin Amis has a way with words,he likes them to spin and fizz with satire and vitriolic humour.He’s essentially a writer for a post-Christian secularist age,who dislikes what... Read more
Published 12 months ago by technoguy
5.0 out of 5 stars His style is excellent
I enjoyed this book for Martin Amis's style and I found it unputdownable, because of the flow of his English. If you like reflective books about relationships, this is for you. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Hoka
3.0 out of 5 stars Mmm
Not really my type of book - I just could not get into it. Perhaps if I tried re-reading it some time I may find it ok.
Published 14 months ago by V. A. Robinson
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