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Amsterdam: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Ian Mcewan
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Amazon

When good-time, fortysomething Molly Lane dies of an unspecified degenerative illness, her many friends and numerous lovers are led to think about their own mortality. Vernon Halliday, editor of the upmarket newspaper the Judge, persuades his old friend Clive Linley, a self-indulgent composer of some reputation, to enter into a euthanasia pact with him. Should either of them be stricken with such an illness, the other will bring about his death. From this point onward we are in little doubt as to Amsterdam's outcome--it's only a matter of who will kill whom. In the meantime, compromising photographs of Molly's most distinguished lover, foreign secretary Julian Garmony, have found their way into the hands of the press, and as rumors circulate he teeters on the edge of disgrace. However, this is McEwan, so it is no surprise to find that the rather unsavory Garmony comes out on top. Ian McEwan is master of the writer's craft, and while this is the sort of novel that wins prizes, his characters remain curiously soulless amidst the twists and turns of plot. --Lisa Jardine

From Publishers Weekly

As swift as a lethal bullet and as timely as current headlines, McEwan's Booker Prize-winning novel is a mordantly clever?but ultimately too clever for its own good?exploration of ethical issues. Two longtime friends meet at the cremation of the woman they shared, beautiful restaurant critic and photographer Molly Lane. Clive Linley, a celebrated composer, and Vernon Halliday, the editor of a financially troubled London tabloid, could never understand Molly's third liaison?with conservative Foreign Secretary Julian Garmony, who is angling to be prime minister, or her marriage to dour but rich publisher George Lane. Mourning the manner of Molly's agonizing death, which left her mad and helpless at the end, each man pledges to dispatch the other by euthanasia should he be similarly afflicted. Immediately afterwards, both Clive and Vernon are enmeshed in a crisis: Clive must finish his commissioned Millennium Symphony so it can premiere in Amsterdam, and Vernon must grapple with the moral issue of publishing photos of Julian Garmony in drag that George has discovered with Molly's effects. The clash between whether the demands of pure art are more valid than political accountability and financial solvency soon assumes a larger dimension that turns Clive and Vernon into bitter enemies and inspires each of them to seek revenge by the same means. McEwan spins these plot developments with smooth alacrity and with acidulous wit, especially focused on the way shallow and mediocre people can occupy positions of power and esteem: "In his profession, Vernon was revered as a nonentity." His ability to sculpt a scene with such arresting visual detail that it assumes a physical dimension for the reader (most memorably in the opening of Enduring Love but also evident here as Clive observes a woman being accosted by a rapist, and as Vernon watches a TV interview that signals the end of his career) are undiminished. But when, in the last third of the book, McEwan manipulates the plot to achieve a less than credible symmetry, it is obvious that, despite the Booker recognition, this is far from McEwan's best novel. That said, however, it will undoubtedly hit the bestseller charts, for McEwan, even when not quite at the top of his form, is a writer of compelling gifts. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2880 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (March 31 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003DYGNQ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cold in Amsterdam Feb. 23 2007
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the beef? Oct. 22 2008
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Start, Lukewarm Ending May 14 2004
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And not a tulip in sight June 28 2005
Apparently, I am in the minority in liking AMSTERDAM (which would, of course, include those individuals involved in selecting the winner of the Booker prize). It has been a long time since I have taken the time to read a novel straight through-the exception being the excellent and well-crafted BARK OF THE DOGWOOD and the novel LOVELY BONES-----but this story -- of the politics of friendship -- kept me hooked from the opening scene. AMSTERDAM opens at the funeral of Molly Lane, and treks the perverse friendship of two of her former lovers -- Vernon and Clive, a writer and composer, respectively. As the tale unfolds, it becomes evident that the loss of Molly -- their only link and their only real identity -- undoes them. In addition to the plot, with an interesting ethical twist regarding the slippery slope of euthenasia, the poetic prose of the novel and the myriad underlying plots make this book a pleasure to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A case of the Emperor's new clothes Jan. 3 2007
What a galling act, to gift this trite, self indulgent, shallow personal billboard (not to mention dithering, pointless and irrelevant) novel with the Booker.

The shelves of this world are full to bursting with satisfactorily written novels deserving of nothing more than a polite pat on the back for the author's application and determination in achieving publication.

Awarding this novel with the Booker is akin to lauding George Bush for his political acumen.

Stand this novel beside Coetzee's Disgrace and watch it blush.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Split Personality?
Having first read "Saturday" and "The Innocent" I pushed through "Amsterdam" only because I was waiting for Ian McEwan's brilliance to turn up. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Caroda
2.0 out of 5 stars Amsterdumb
This is my first review ever on Amazon and I want to be able to express my thoughts on literature better so I figured, why not? Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2011 by PV
4.0 out of 5 stars There's nothing about the coffee-shops...
An ex-photographer and a well known restaurant critic, Molly Lane had been a beautiful, lively and funny lady. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2008 by Craobh Rua
2.0 out of 5 stars City of sin
Many words have been spoken about legalisation of eutanasia and death tourism in Netherlands,, many words have been spoken about sensationalist journalism, and may of them will be... Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by Matko Vladanovic
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not a masterpiece
I have to agree with other reviewers that this book was interesting but flawed. It did not flesh out Clive and Vernon as would be needed. Read more
Published on March 4 2004 by Susie Sharon
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down
A bit over the top perhaps, but I recommend it without hesitation.
Published on Feb. 27 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Booker?
This book won the 1998 Booker prize. When I picked up this book I was expecting a lot – I was expecting something profound, something that would make me ponder life long... Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Amanda
3.0 out of 5 stars promptly forgot about it after I was finished
This is not a novel that sticks with you. Some 40something woman dies and two of her many ex-boyfriends enter a suicide pact at her funeral. Read more
Published on June 7 2002 by momazon
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