The Pregnant Widow

Publisher: Vintage Canada

The year is 1970, and the youth of Europe are in the ecstatic throes of the sexual revolution. Though dedicated to the cause they 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.

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.

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.


Book One

Where We Lay Our Scene


Franca Viola

It was the summer of 1970, and time had not yet trampled them flat, these lines:

Sexual intercourse began

In 1963

(Which was rather late for me)—

Between the end of the Chatterley ban

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"The Pregnant Widow is . . . Amis’s finest novel for a long time. It is close to a masterpiece. . . . Read it: it is hilarious, often wonderfully perceptive, uncompromisingly ambitious and written by a great master of the English language. In a time when many of our novelists are hedging their bets, Amis is gloriously undaunted."
— Financial Times

"Beautifully achieved, cunningly relaxed, and reveals considerable emotional depth in its last pages."
--Ottawa Citizen

"This clever novel deserves a Booker prize."
--The Guardian

"Fine and hilarious.... Amis at his absolute and unique best."
--The Economist

"Amis is one of the true original voices to come along in the last 40 years. The fizzy, smart linguistic fireworks, with their signature italicisms, riffs on the language and stunningly clever, off-center metaphors are certainly evident in The Pregnant Widow."
--The New York Times Book Review