8 Sep 2011

Review: "The Pregnant Widow"

There were so many reasons to pick up "The Pregnant Widow" by Martin Amis. First of all, I really like "London Fields" by Martin Amis and I quite enjoyed "The Rachel Papers" so it seemed like a reasonable assumption that I would enjoy "The Pregnant Widow" as well. Also I think the title is really cool - the paperback cover on the other hand I am not too keen on but hey, you can't get it all and I chose the hardback cover to accompany this review as I think that is quite pretty.

"The Pregnant Widow" is Amis's 12th novel and in my opinion it is a really great one. The story is quite interesting and multi-facetted with lots of details that kept me fascinated and with beautiful descriptions that made Italy - where the story is set - really come to life.

The narrator is a 20-year-old male with all the trouble and issues that come with being way too focussed on sex and at the mercy of women... Poor guy! Keith Nearing is quite the anti-hero, he is a days away from his 21st birthday and far away from home on a holiday in Italy. It is the 1970's and girls are intent on behaving like boys and being liberated which means that Keith's relationship with girlfriend Lily is not going to well, she is too liberated and to little in love with Keith, who sees her as some sort of sister. Instead he has his eyes on her friend, the gorgeous upper-class girl Sheherazade with the amazing body who is starting to understand exactly how much power she has over the male gender. As if that wasn't enough to cook up a dramatic story, Amis then throws a bunch of interesting minor characters into the mix - such as every-girls-dream the Italian count (with only with drawback that keeps him from ever getting Sheherazade) and the depressed twentysomething who is hiding out in shame. It is a dangerous mix and Keith is too messed up by a mix of his own hormones, feelings and dreams to take caution. He spends his days in a frenzy of reading - only disrupted to have conversations with the girls or looking at their breasts.... It is a summer that he will always remember and that will change his life forever.

It is a fantastic book if you ask me - I read it and loved it and some day I will read this in Italy on a warm summers day and it will feel like I am almost there with Keith as he faces the difficulties of youth and the conundrums of women.

Read it if: You love early Martin Amis - or if you are no longer a teenager but remember how difficult being hormonal was...

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