The Pregnant Widow

The Pregnant Widow (2010) by Martin Amis is another fine book by a masterly English writer. Amis explores the summer of 1970 and Oxford undergraduate Keith’s stay in a castle in Italy with his girlfriend Lily and a group of their friends. The book is ‘higher auto-biography’ with many of the characters and presumably much of the story modelled on Amis’s own life.

The reason why it’s worth reading is the writing talent of Martin Amis. There are few writers who can write as well. His understanding of language, his games and his keen eye are all impressive. His characters are all also harsh, both in the way they are presented and in their own views on the other characters. This is how many well off young people are but in some ways it’s depressing. Amis’s humour is hard to get for people who don’t share a lot of his perspective. This is true of much comedic writing. Amis does quite a bit of amused sociology looking at how people’s sexual behavior changed around the time. The book is a book about nothing, or at least a book that excludes much view of anything bigger than the well off lives of the main characters.

The book isn’t as good as Amis’s best, Money and London Fields, but it is certainly a return to form for anyone who appreciates the formidable, very often unkind but superbly talented writer that Martin Amis is. New Statesman has a good review of the book.

4/5

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