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.
Keith Nearing is stuck in an exquisite limbo. Twenty years old and on vacation from college, Keith and an assortment of his peers are spending the long, hot summer in a castle in Italy. The tragicomedy of manners that ensues will have an indelible effect on all its participants, and we witness, too, how it shapes Keith’s subsequent love life for decades to come. Bitingly funny, full of wit and pathos, The Pregnant Widow is a trenchant portrait of young lives being carried away on a sea of change.
From the Hardcover edition.
In a virtuosic return to form, Martin Amis revisits the sex-fueled material of his early career such as THE RACHEL PAPERS, DEAD BABIES, and SUCCESS. The political concerns of his recent writing have been, for the most part, jettisoned, and Amis's famously prodigal prose devotes itself instead to the specific human experience of coming-of-age in the sexually liberated era of the 1970s. The protagonist of the novel, Keith Nearing, is a 20-year-old literary soul aspiring to be a libertine during a summer vacation with a group of friends at an Italian castle. Despite the new freedom of the age and Keith's witty quips on literature and lust, sex is trickier in practice than in theory, and he finds his desires bent and twisted by the newly empowered bathing beauties tanning themselves poolside at the castle. In the novel's inspired coda, Amis fast-forwards through the decades after the ****** summer, and shows how the aftereffects of moral revolution rippled out through his characters' lives. An admittedly autobiographical work, THE PREGNANT WIDOW vividly captures the hedonistic fevers of youth in the post-pill, pre-AIDS world, and also depicts those who burned up in its ravishing heat. Keith is damaged by his experiences, but his sister Violet--a clear stand-in for Amis's own sister--dies from drink and dissolution. Comic, debauched, erudite, and ill-behaved--these are well-known early Amis traits, but THE PREGNANT WIDOW adds a melancholic wisdom to the mix, re-imagining the stories of his youth though the dark glass of time. Selected by Publishers Weekly as a 2010 Top 10 Book.
- Fiction + Literature Themes, Fiction + Literature Genres
- Family + Friendship, Conflicts + Dualities, Literary Genres + Types of Novels, Settings, Love + Relationships + Sex, Literary
- May 3, 2011
- May 3, 2011
- Martin Amis