The Pregnant Widow

The Pregnant Widow

Inside History

Book - 2010
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A riotous, bitingly funny, and supremely clever novel from one of our most distinctive voices in the English language.
The year is 1970, and Keith Nearing, a twenty-year-old literature student, is spending his summer vacation in a castle on a mountainside in Italy. The Sexual Revolution is in full-swing--a historical moment of unprecedented opportunity--and Keith and his friends are immediately caught up in its chaotic, ecstatic throes. Yet they soon discover a disturbing truth: between the death of one social order and the birth of another, there exists a state of liminal purgatory, once described by the Russian thinker Alexander Herzen as "a pregnant widow."
As Amis deftly explores the repercussions and consequences of that one summer, he presents us with a precise and poignant portrait of the liberating possibilities, and the haunting consequences, of change. Expertly written and full of wit and pathos, The Pregnant Widow is Amis at his fearless best.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
Edition: 1st North American ed
ISBN: 9781400095988
Branch Call Number: F Ami


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Nov 28, 2014

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 for no obvious reason?

This paragraph on page 27-28 completely baffled me and is actually what sent me running to the journal so I wouldn't lose the energy and urge to write that's been brought about by that confusion.

"Keith was assuming social realism would hold, here in Italy. And yet Italy itself seemed partly fabulous, and the citadel they occupied seemed partly fabulous, and the transformation of Scheherazade seemed partly fabulous. Where was social realism? The upper classes themselves, he kept thinking, were not social realists. Their modus operandi, their way of operating, obeyed looser rules. He was, ominously, a K in a castle. But he was still assuming that social realism would hold. What does he mean by partly fabulous, and what does K in a castle mean?

Then there's page eight, which is four lines away from being a full page contemplation of women's measurements. Now, correct me if I'm wrong because despite being a girl myself I'm hardly an expert, but isn't it true that the narrowest part of a woman's torso is her waist. No matter if she's an or a 28, her waist will always be narrower than her hips or chest. If that is true how on earth can measurements like 35-45-55 or 46-47-31 be possible, or something a boy in 'early adolescence' would fantasise about?

After 30 pages I think I've spent about enough time on this sex-driven mess of a story. I've only got a few weeks before I leave for three weeks in France and a lot of books to read before I go most (if not all) of which I won't be able to take due to due dates occurring while I'm away. So, a book's got to be reasonable for me to spend precious time on it, and this was far from it. Such a low average rating, immediate evidence of the reasons given for that low average rating and my own personal confusion have lead to this being a great big NOPE .

debwalker Sep 16, 2010

My best read of summer 2010. Seems to be at least semi-autobiographical and a roman a clef of the who's who of Brit lit. The protagonist Keith is the same height as Amis, and shares some of his personal history (date of birth, degree and early employment). Amis has said that the character Kenrik is modelled on his friend Rob Henderson; the names of his London characters, Arn and Ewan, bear some resemblance to Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan. The story of Violet, Keith’s younger sister, is drawn directly from the tragic life of Sally, Amis’ younger sister. The character Neil Darlington is based on Ian Hamilton, the late poet. Members of Amis’ circle recognize Nicholas, the protagonist’s older brother, as the irreverent Christopher Hitchens, who includes a chapter in his memoir “Hitch 22” about his long friendship with Amis.
Will make a great movie.


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