Title: The Pregnant Widow
Author: Martin Amis
A novel which is essentially a male perspective on feminism is always fraught with danger. Especially if the main character of said novel is a randy 20 year old male whose main concerns in life are his sexual conquests. And yet, this is what Martin Amis has done in his latest satirical offering, The Pregnant Widow.
Set at the start of the sexual revolution, which Amis describes as ‘a time when girls began acting like boys and boys went on acting like boys’. The pregnant widow has at its centre, Keith Nearing, a 20 year old intellectual who spends the summer of 1970 in an Italian castle with his girlfriend Lily and her best friend Scheherazade. Keith longs to sleep with Scheherazade, the glamorous, and for most part, unattainable beauty who strolls around the castle grounds topless, and causes near riots when she walks down the street. When Keith eventually has his desires fulfilled from an unexpected source the experience haunts him for the rest of his life.
With the exception of Keith’s sister, Violet, who is a tragic victim of the sexual revolution due to her exuberant promiscuity, the majority of the characters in The pregnant widow are thoroughly unlikable. This is however, not always a negative, as the characters struggle to come to terms with the consequences of their actions in a time when all the rules of sexual engagement are changing. It would almost be tragic, if they weren’t so conceited and their predicaments so deserved and so comical.