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Amsterdam : A Novel Paperback – 1999

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Paperback, 1999
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Random House of Canada, Limited; First Edition edition (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385494246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385494243
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,850,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

ex-library book in excellent condition with few library markings inside

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 23 2007
Format: Paperback
Ian McEwan is, without a doubt, one of the greatest writers of dark fiction today. But his novella "Amsterdam" is something of a misfire, reading more like the sluggishly-filled-out outline for a novel rather than a novel itself. While it has the seeds of genius, his usual introspection and depth is both missing and sorely missed.

Molly Lane is dead, her mind and body wrecked by an unspecified disease. Now her assorted lovers and friends reunite one last time, including Molly's ex-boyfriends Clive and Vernon, respectively a prominent composer and a not-so-respected newspaper editor. Because of Molly, they are friends -- and they enter into a pact because of her death.

But things go awry when Vernon gets his hands on photos of the Foreign Secretary Julian Garmony, cross-dressing and photographed by Molly. Eager to bring down Garmony and bring up his readership, Vernon wants to publish the photos in his newspaper; Clive is disgusted by this, yet he allows a rapist and murderer to go free for the sake of his musical inspiration. Which man is worse?

"Amsterdam" is like a city in winter: pretty at a distance but rather empty and cold when you walk through it. In theory it has all the elements needed for a great novel, but it feels vaguely unfinished, as if McEwan was expanding an outline into a full-fledged novel but somehow never finished the job.

The characters are lacking in the complexity found in most of McEwan's other books, where many dimensions can be found. Clive is almost impossible to connect with; Vernon is more understandable, given his waning career. But if these characters aren't really connectable, McEwan uses them to make us look at morality, hypocrisy, and where our bad intentions can lead us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jack Blatant on Oct. 22 2008
Format: Paperback
I echo the cry of that terrible harridan of the 1980's Wendy's commercials. I enjoyed making my way through this, but by the time I was done I was like the venerable man after Chinese food: full, but hungry and unsatisfied shortly thereafter.

I'm not going to be the guy who drops spoilers in a review, but my word, does anyone else see the echoes of Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana?" Maybe I just read them too closely together and conflated them circumstantially.

At any rate, I'm glad that I borrowed the book, and didn't pay for it... scandalous as it may be to say that in an online bookseller review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob Slaven TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 19 2015
Format: Paperback
I received this book free for review from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. Despite the coolness of receiving a free book, I’m absolutely candid about it below because I believe authors and readers will benefit most from honest reviews rather than vacuous 5-star reviews.

The nutshell view on this book is that it is essentially the story of a friendship torn asunder. The narrative is fairly complex and the writing exceptionally literary but it does take a really long time to get to its ‘hook.’ Even when it does so, the hook isn’t terribly strong and takes a fair amount of willpower to carry forward with.

So on the positive side, the book is exceptionally erudite and paints a fine and detailed picture of its protagonists. They are very real and vividly portrayed and one could imagine knowing them in real life. Their intercourse is fairly realistic and they carry on like old friends tend to.

To the negative, the book takes a long time to get find its way to something interesting. The first full third of this short novel sets the stage and I found my mind wandering terribly and I wondered what exactly why I was bothering. Once I found the hook the a-ha moment was brief and only mildly impactful.

In summary, I can’t really find any group of readers to whom I would recommend this book. It wallows in the shallows of mediocrity and is not one that will come to mind unbidden over the coming months. In fact, utterly forgettable I’m afraid.

PS: I hope my review was helpful. If it was not, then please let me know what I left out that you’d want to know. I always aim to improve.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JRU on May 14 2004
Format: Hardcover
Love Ian McEwan. This is a writer who'll call you names, but will giggle still and kiss you afterwards. His comedy and his portrait of modern life (or modern Britain during and after the Thatcher years) is without equal, and one should thank him for it.
But AMSTERDAM, his most critically-acclaimed work so far, is too obscure, too 'crammed' a book for this reviewer to highly recommend (Not that there is a need for it. This one, afterall, won THE Booker Prize). Here, four brilliantly constructed characters attempt to out-manouvre each other for no given reason (or is it perhaps because of pride? you decide). You will find it entertaining and inspiring to read how McEwan engineered each of his plots to deliver a psychological study (no matter how small the examination is) of his four major characters. You will feel their pain, their bitterness, their loneliness, their heartlessness, yet in a narrative that is straightforward and unsentimental. (His Julian Garmony, a cross-dressing politician of brilliant machiavellian talent, is one character you'll either love or hate. McEwan's account of Garmony's grasp of power simply is wonderful). Reading AMSTERDAM is like experiencing a Toni Morisson novel written by a PBS or an Economist (UK weekly mag) journalist, and this, I know, is not a bad thing.
This is a good introduction to McEwan, and a book highly enjoyable. But, as mentioned briefly above, the ending is quite lukewarm...
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