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The Pregnant Widow

3.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,641 ratings  ·  336 reviews
The year is 1970, and the youth of Europe are in the chaotic, ecstatic throes of the sexual revolution. Though blindly dedicated to the cause, its nubile foot soldiers have yet to realize this disturbing truth: that between the death of one social order and the birth of another, there exists a state of terrifying purgatory—or, as Alexander Herzen put it, a pregnant widow.

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Hardcover, 370 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Knopf (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.09  · 
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Jessica
May 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: maybe baby boomers? men? so they can tell me if i'm missing something?
Recommended to Jessica by: no one, and in fact i read it AGAINST the infallible advice of mike reynolds
You know how women are always saying that what they want is a guy with a great sense of humor, while men are always saying that women love assholes? I've long thought, based on this, that a lot more women than'd admit it want to bang Martin Amis. Despite his innumerable turnoffs and appalling flaws, there is something bangable -- er, compelling about the guy and his writing. I gave The Pregnant Widow an extra star because (for reasons I can't fully explain) I did enjoy the first three quarters o ...more
Ruby Soames
Jun 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An arse writing with his dick about tits.

I bet you if I told Amis that I found his book mildly offensive to women, he'd retort, well you've probably got small tits or you've not been laid recently. That's the voice I heard reading this novel. And I found it boring, empty and irritating - the novel was a page turner for the wrong reasons. Amis is no doubt a great writer - the prose is hands down perfect - but what he writes about is a joke: an unfunny, long and forgettable joke. Are we supposed
...more
Kevin Shepherd
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, own, reviewed
I came to Martin Amis via Christopher Hitchens. Hitch being, arguably, the most well-read person on the planet, I had lofty expectations. For my first foray into Amis-Land, I will simply say that I am whelmed. Not overwhelmed. Not necessarily underwhelmed. Just whelmed.

The lion's share of The Pregnant Widow takes place in the summer of 1970. Our protagonist, college student Keith Nearing, is on a holiday excursion with a group of friends to an Italian castle. Here, Keith diligently but rather aw
...more
Andrew
Mar 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life consists of waiting to fuck, fucking, and then remembering when you fucked. When you die, you think about how the fucks went. When you grow old and stare vacantly into the mirror, your 'bald patch receding into infinity', you say to yourself, 'Fuck, I rememember when I used to fuck, what happened to all those fucks.'

This is the impression of life I get from The Pregnant Widow, Martin Amis' latest novel. The book was originally planned to be an autobiographical account of Amis' sex life, but
...more
William2
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Another through-the-roof masterpiece from Martin Amis. It's distressing how consistently he turns them out. I have only read The Pregnant Widow once, and have settled on the following thoughts to share for now.

1. Those of us used to the usual Amis verbal fireworks will have to wait. He wants a slower build here. He doesn't want to eject readers along the way with too many polysyllabics. He focuses on character and action for the first third. In time we get to all of the stuff that we enjoy so mu
...more
MJ Nicholls
Oct 28, 2019 marked it as sampled  ·  review of another edition
The living, sweating, rutting embodiment of meh.
Stela

Martin Amis’s The Pregnant Widow is the first book I’ve finished in 2016 (I wanted to write “this year” then I remembered that once I had started a review with “this summer” and later, while re-reading it, I had to investigate to learn what summer I was talking about ☺ ) and what a good beginning it was, indeed!

Maybe this is not Martin Amis at his best, but it was fun, despite the somehow gloomy title, inspired by Alexander Herzen’s dooming prophecy used as the first motto of the novel:

“The deat
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Rick
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Loved it. Amis is softening, but it's a good thing. Man, people are so mean to him. Why do I look the other way? Maybe I feel bad about his upbringing. I didn't know about his sister. That's really sad, and he did a great job writing this book as a tribute to her.

HIs turns of phrase never cease to amaze me. He makes it look effortless. And I love the extended coda of the ending. I love how he freely admits that the summer in italy was the only part of Keith's life that took the form of a novel,
...more
J.
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Tweens
On a remote Italian hilltop, magic and fireflies surround an enchanted castle... Evening descends and the Mediterranean azur deepens, around the sons and daughters of the absent affluent.

A paen to youth, a valentine, in fact, to words like paen and wordplay for its own sake; a bonbon of elegiac yearning and wonder. And in case you were wondering, happy coincidence, the screenplay simply writes itself.

Doesn't it just :
Lucky, larky lads and libertine lolitas drape themselves around every frame.
...more
Tony
Apr 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: british
There is, within, this piece of dialogue:

"You know in Dickens, when the good characters look in the fire, they see the faces of their loved ones. And the bad characters, they just see hell and doom."

"What do you see?"


Ponder that. Amis does, through the life of an alter-ego, and resolves that great existential question on the final pages. Skip ahead if you want.

The first half of this book spawned vapid characters, and too many to be adequately fleshed out. Twenty-somethings summering in Italy, wo
...more
Jennifer
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are times when reading Martin Amis that I feel as though I just don't get "it." And that is when I realize that the it I will never get is the thought process of the other sex. Seriously. Reading this book I identified with Lily and her frustration with Keith the main character and narrator. (Naming a hero Keith takes gumption). But then, I realize, that is the point. That is precisely why I love reading Amis, because it gives me a glimpse into a world so familiar and yet so completely dif ...more
Mark
Jun 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Mark by: a "friend"
I'm not sure that I've ever disliked a book more that I have actually finished. The author spends so much time impressing us with his word-slinging technology and introducing countless characters, but it was never really clear to me what exactly was going on. I suspect that he did this on purpose. Here's an example:

"Keith replaced the receiver and thought of the white T-shirt in Holland Park. The meteorological or heavenly connivance. No-see-um raindrops, and her torso moulded by the pornodew.
...more
Kira Henehan
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like reading this cast into sharp relief the level of tortured writing and storytelling through which I'd been unwittingly suffering over the last few books I've read/started.

Thank GOD for some playfulness, some exuberance with the language. This book made me HAPPY to read, it made me laugh, it made me consider.

So fuckit. Yay Mr. Amis. Sorry everyone hates your book so much but you pleased me to no end.
...more
Matt
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok


Took off well, didn't denouement like it should have. Method editing?
...more
GD
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I normally write short reviews because most of what I want to say about a book has been said by other people before, but this book has a much lower rating than I give it, and I feel I need to reveal more sack because of it. I'm not a Martin Amis fanboy, although I think he's one of the greatest living writers. He has written some stinkers, and his non-fiction, my god, except for the memoirs, is just excruciating for me to get through. And I really didn't like his book before this one, with the R ...more
Col
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, a
Blurb..........


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
...more
Sarah
4/10 - Oh dear! At 3.01, this has a dreadful average rating that's giving me premonitions of it being a DNFer. This is the problem with not having a smart phone with the GR app on it. To be continued...

Later - I'm having trouble making any sense of this book.
For example, why does Amis insert a lesson in etymology into a sentence every often? On page 25, why do we need to know that 'Desolate' is from L. Desolare 'abandon', from de- 'thoroughly' + solus 'alone'? Who inserts that into a sentence fo
...more
Henning Koch
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a wealth of experience and wit in this book, I love almost all of it - until the last thirty or forty pages, when Amis departs from the format of his novel and goes into a fast forward mode of cataloguing main character Keith's future.
Why did he do it? Just to avoid the easy, obvious success? There are some writers who are uncomfortable with endings - a sort of literary fear of death? There is an awful lot of twisting and turning, pirouetting and twirling, rather than just boldly endin
...more
Tom
Jul 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, men, english, england
I start of with Andrew's summary of this book: "Life consists of waiting to fuck, fucking, and then remembering when you fucked. When you die, you think about how the fucks went. When you grow old and stare vacantly into the mirror, your 'bald patch receding into infinity', you say to yourself, 'Fuck, I rememember when I used to fuck, what happened to all those fucks.'".

"The Pregnant Widow" is a book about the Sexual Revolution at the start of the seventies. We follow the ever-horny literature
...more
Robert
Nov 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis is a challenging novel for a number of reasons. The first challenge is that is too long. The second challenge is that it is too silly. The third challenge is that it is too true.
This is a book with deep roots in the summer of 1970 when a group of prickly friends, male and female, took stock of what the sexual revolution of the 1960s had wrought in terms of where things stood, male- and female-wise. The friends are largely, but not exclusively, English, and the
...more
Maya Lang
Imagine throwing a dinner party when in sweeps your friend, your bit-of-a-dick friend, who's late, naturally, and empty-handed, who's soon telling pompous, preening stories in a carrying voice because he finds himself very clever, all while not-so-subtly ogling all of the women's breasts and helping himself freely to the booze. (I picture Philip Seymour Hoffman's character from The Talented Mr. Ripley in this role.)

This is how I'd describe the narrative voice of this novel. It is sloppy and ful
...more
Mark Desrosiers
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Aging fox theorizes about this henhouse perched atop the backwards-flying angel of history.

The story itself occasionally reaches awful peaks of hilarity and absurdity, complete with white-knuckle plot curves like I haven't seen since Money. And you gotta admit that the way he weaves his twin obsessions -- height and Islam -- into the story is both preposterous and very witty. I no longer consider Martin Amis a font of wisdom, but I admire his ability to plant an ideological stake and then stick
...more
Megan
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a little surprised by all of the negative reviews here; for me, this is one of Amis's best novels. Yes, it's about a group of sex-obsessed twenty year olds, but the book is not celebrating sex; instead, it's (rather viciously) interrogating the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and the world it helped create. The book is set in 1970, and the characters are young people groping their way through a world in which, sexually speaking, anything goes. As the book makes clear, this new freedom is no ...more
Jane Branson
Jul 31, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinishable
Whatever one star stands for (the Goodreads mobile app won't let me see) it's one too many (but Goodreads doesn't allow nil stars). Admittedly I only read the first 50 pages but that represents a considerable effort and, frankly, life's too short to read another line. Another reviewer summed it up nicely with some choice language, but I shall have to restrain myself because I am Goodreads-friends with my children. Suffice it to say, I had to create a new 'unfinishable' shelf. ...more
Leonard
Apr 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In my lifetime I have worked with a couple people who, if you told them they could not use the F word, would be speechless. The characters in this book are not quite that bad or that illiterate, but almost. I wasn't impressed and would not want to hang out with these people. They seem shallow, thoughtless, and inconsiderate. They're more like caricatures than characters and the story comes across as shallow and meaningless. ...more
Jeanne Thornton
does literature require kindness, and why
Andrew Smith
I'd never had any interest in reading a Martin Amis book until The Pregnant Widow. I'd read short stories by Amis which I found tedious and/or annoying, and I'd seen profiles of him that led me to believe I didn't much like the man. Mainly because I couldn't take his arrogance in the ongoing personal "rivalry" with Julian Barnes, who in my opinion is one of the most intelligent, interesting writers of his and Amis's generation (now in their late 50s) of UK authors. But when I heard that Martin A ...more
christa
This is one of those novels where a handful of young horn dogs go live in a castle in Italy for the summer. Martin Amis' novel "The Pregnant Widow" is set in 1970 and the writerly Keith Nearing is 20. He's hanging out with his plain Jane girlfriend Lily, and reading Jane Austin novels next to the pool. Meanwhile Lily's best friend Scheherazade has transformed from a mousy Meals-on-Wheels driver to the buxomest thing to ever prance around in a monokini.

Keith masks his feelings from Lily, with wh
...more
Callie
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost finished. You can see why Amis is considered a major talent. He can do everything. Strong plot, fully developed characters, creative use of language, and he has Big Ideas, or Themes. You read and keep thinking, I should be reading this for a class and underlining and I should have a lit professor to guide me through all of it.

This novel is grown out of and pays tribute to the novels of mostly female British writers of the mostly Victorian era. Austen, Eliot. Social realism. Novels about
...more
Eliza
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
10/29/2012: I was stumped by this book. Confounded. But why, then, did I keep reading? It was a most frustrating experience; I kept thinking that Amis would say something to clarify his purpose, or to resolve his mysteries, or to align the elliptical asides that appeared every few chapters. But I ended where I began, with a "Wait, what?"

The man can write. And his characters, his scenes, his evocation of a time and place are arresting. Keith, Lily, Scheherezade, Adriano, Gloria, Violet--all seem
...more
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Martin Amis is an English novelist, essayist, and short story writer. His works include the novels Money, London Fields and The Information.

The Guardian writes that "all his critics have noted what Kingsley Amis [his father] complained of as a 'terrible compulsive vividness in his style... that constant demonstrating of his command of English'; and it's true that the Amis-ness of Amis will be reco
...more

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