Seth Rogovoy's Reviews > The Pregnant Widow

The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis
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Aug 01, 10

Read in July, 2010

As one inclined to love just about anything Martin Amis writes, fiction and nonfiction alike, I was disappointed in his latest novel, "The Pregnant Widow."

It may just be that I am the wrong reader for this book. What Amis does here is updates a Jane Austen-like comedy of manners (is that what they're called) for the 1960s "sexual revolution." A group of friends and acquaintances gather in a country mansion and the book is for the most part a series of will they/won't they intrigues. Guests come and go; their impending arrivals the cause of much fuss; their departures the cause of much gossip.

The central character, Keith, is actually making his way through Jane Austen's books, as well as other writers of her era, and there are probably tons of allusions and parallels between the stories he is reading (which are discussed in some detail) and the events that are taking place in the novel's present that totally went over my head, as I'm not well-versed in that genre, nor am I a fan of it.

There are also some odd touches -- authorial intrusions into the narrative, quirky obsessions, etc.

Amis is clearly drawing upon the history of his own generation's coming of age in the late 1960s for much of the material, and perhaps it would have more meaning for those who lived through the transition from the old mores to the new.

For me, a huge fan of his "London Fields" and "The Information" -- both placed in contemporary times and luxuriating in wordplay -- this book seemed like a remote, intellectual exercise and period piece, rather than quintessential Amis.
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