Saturday 3 December 2016

Amis takes aim at the wrong target

The sexual revolution didn't kill Sally Amis as her brother, writer Martin, has claimed, says Julia Molony

Julia Molony

Published 06/12/2009 | 05:00

ELUSIVE: Kingsley Amis, right, with his wife Hilly and their children, Martin, left, Sally and Phillip.
ELUSIVE: Kingsley Amis, right, with his wife Hilly and their children, Martin, left, Sally and Phillip.

Martin Amis believes the sexual revolution was to blame for the death of his sister. Sally Amis died aged 46 from complications contributable to alcoholism. Hers had been a tragic adulthood. By her brother's description, she was "pathologically promiscuous".

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Before she finally succumbed to an infection in hospital, she was living in a council flat in Kentish Town. Her life story was a sad portrait of intractable dissolution; a failed marriage, a string of abusive relationships, an unplanned pregnancy she claimed was the result of a one-night stand, a daughter given up for adoption.

In Martin Amis's new novel, The Pregnant Widow, the famous controversialist fictionalises his latest thesis, developed through the experience of the loss of his sister. The free love movement of the late sixties and early seventies did not liberate, but victimised women, he claims. His sister Sally, was "one of the most spectacular victims of the sexual revolution".

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