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Amsterdam

3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  30,537 Ratings  ·  2,259 Reviews
On a chilly February day, two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence. Clive is Britain's most successful modern composer; Vernon is editor of the quality broadsheet "The Judge." Gorgeous, feisty Molly h ...more
Hardcover, 193 pages
Published January 1999 by Nan A. Talese (first published 1998)
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The Merchant of Venice by William ShakespeareAmsterdam by Ian McEwanA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  SmithRooftops of Tehran by Mahbod SerajiDubliners by James Joyce
Cities
2nd out of 285 books — 44 voters
Atonement by Ian McEwanThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonNever Let Me Go by Kazuo IshiguroOne Day by David NichollsThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Modern British Novels
54th out of 436 books — 485 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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will
Mar 27, 2008 will rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

Is it just me or do other people "shy away" from books that look a little too intellectual for them? I read because I enjoy it. I am at an age where I don't need to read to impress. I like a good book (and I hate a bad book) and will read anything that interests me. I am shallow enough to pick a book up because I like the picture on the front or I like the title. I occasionally read books that others have recommended but I have to know what the other person likes. Too oft
...more
Iris
Jan 24, 2016 Iris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a brilliant read, the second Ian McEwan novel I have read. I am tantalised by his dexterity as a writer, his ability to write in a completely different style from that employed in Atonement. This was utterly gripping. I read this as I am going to be leading discussion on this in the book group I lead at my former school, with sixth form students who are studying Atonement. McEwan manages to captivate the attention of readers so forcefully, though the characters are questionable in their ...more
Glenn Sumi
This sly little dark comedy – an unusual Booker Prize winner – examines aging and ethics in turn-of-the-millennium London.

A woman’s death irrevocably changes the lives of three of her former lovers: a composer, a newspaper editor and a politician, each one staring down middle-age and mortality with varying degrees of acceptance and equanimity.

McEwan’s prose is impeccable, and he’s clearly done his research. His depiction of the newspaper world, in which editors are under the gun to get that scoo
...more
AC

This book made me want to scream.... On finishing it, I *literally* threw it against the wall in anger.

This is my third McEwan, all read in a row. I truly adored this book - while reading it, I saw it becoming his masterpiece. It was going to be a 5-star read. He writes simply, but the register of feelings is not simple in the least, his delicate probings into human neurosis is, while restrained, almost always and surprisingly on target -- I think one needs to have a bit of middle-age, perhaps,
...more
Alison
Oct 27, 2009 Alison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of M. Night Shyalaman who pretend to read philosopher before pilates class.
I'm tired of the super-twist endings and the ponderous philosophical musings on guilt and morality. I'm tired of successful, monied people in nicely renovated townhouses feeling sorry for themselves. Maybe I don't get Ian McEwan. I'm okay with that. But I'm not going to read another one of these.
Jr Bacdayan
Think of the shittiest, stupidest, most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done in your life. There now, I’m sure it was still classy, whatever it was, because you are a perfectly intelligent human being. You’ve read quite a number of complicated books; surely that elevates you above the lot of the Homo sapiens. You’re a Homo superior, a sapiosexual, a polymath, a refined member of the species whose primary attribute is a ridiculous tolerance for countless words. You’re the thinking man’s Jedi Knigh ...more
Madeline
Jan 13, 2011 Madeline rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list, ugh
The only thing worse than a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a Manic Pixie Dream girl created by Ian McEwan.

Having only read two of his novels so far (this one and Atonement), I obviously can't speak for his entire body of work, but at the moment I am astonished at McEwan's ability to make all female love interests in his stories utterly unappealing. First Cecilia Tallis, now Molly Lane.

At least Molly, for all intents and purposes, does not actually matter in the grand scope of this book. When it sta
...more
Chris
Nov 18, 2008 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read McEwan's Enduring Love, was bored by a little too much phoned-in prose, and ended up reading Amsterdam instead, because it sat on the shelf of my rental, between The Lovely Bones and a Harlequin Intrigue sampler.

In retrospect, that was about right. What the hell, Amsterdam. I read you in two days, like you were a Hardy Boys book. You are about eight pages long, and part of the thrill of reading you was glancing up and being like "I'm 25% of the way through! I'm halfway already! L
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 18, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Man Booker Winner 1998, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 version)
Shelves: 1001-non-core, booker
My 2nd book by Ian Russell McEwan (born 1948). I have a copy of all his 11 novels except his latest ones, On Chesil Beach and Solar. I am waiting for them to show up in my favorite second-hand books store.

Enduring Love was my first by him. I read it last year and I liked it so much that I would not want to read another of his book. I guess I was afraid I would be disappointed and considering that I have all his books, what would I do with them if I did not like the 2nd? That is possible, right?
...more
Kelly
I suppose my experience of reading this book can be best compared to hearing Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, then the Ninth Symphony, and then being played the Moonlight Sonata. It isn't that this book is any less deserving of praise than Atonement or Enduring Love (I shall leave it to you to figure out which one I classed as the Eroica and which one as the Ninth. :)), but I believe the purpose and the scale of those two books are on a completely different plane than Amsterdam, but intentionally so ...more
Maciek
Jan 31, 2011 Maciek rated it it was ok
I gave Amsterdam two stars because it's so short and there's this weird kind of peculiar joy when you read it. Look, 20 pages! 50 pages! Halfway through!
Other than that, it's one of those boring white-collar novels featuring the seemingly enlightening but nonethelessly ponderous, intelectual and philosophical musings of succesful, rich people who live in their big villas and feel sorry for themselves. None of the characters is memorable or likeable, and the novella (it's under 200 pages) never r
...more
Arun Divakar
The richly air conditioned and plushly carpetted conference halls, bottles of water and pieces of chocolate on the table, writing pads & pens, the rich buffet lunch, tea & coffee in a timely fashion.

I can sum up many a professional training session at best in these words. In most cases, what happens afterwards is that on getting home and reflecting a bit on the days spent, I invariably end up remembering close to nothing from those glitzy presentations nor the content. I am sometimes
...more
Mike Puma
With funerals as an arching motif, great humor, and unnatural deaths, this longish novella is as if written by Agatha Christie after a crash course on writing with Poe and having drunk just enough with Roberto Bolaño.

“Such a tolerant, openminded, and grown-up sort of place”—such is the way McEwan describes the city of Amsterdam, and such is the way I’d describe the novel, Amsterdam—a story of mature friendships made vulnerable by differing views of tolerance and openmindedness and the growing r
...more
Jorge
Dec 29, 2015 Jorge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entiendo que Ian McEwan actualmente goza de las preferencias y los favores de un importante y variado público, digamos que este autor Inglés está de moda entre un vasto sector de lectores tanto de los llamados “profesionales” como entre los lectores ocasionales, ya que su estilo se presta a una lectura ágil e interesante, sin menoscabo de algunos toques moralizantes y artísticos. Me parece que McEwan es de esos autores que poseen el don de gustar universalmente. Su obra Amsterdam contiene una hi ...more
Helle
This was a slightly odd, well-written and reasonably enjoyable book – but a surprising Booker Prize winner. What I love about McEwan is his ability to look inside different people’s heads, his sometimes Woolf-like free indirect style of viewing the world, introspectively and polyphonically. He does that best in Atonement, in my view, but then I love the ambience and the story in that novel, and the characters drew me in completely.

In this novel, however, we follow three men: a musician, a politi
...more
Becky
Nov 24, 2007 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-winners
another booker prize winner, amsterdam is a tightly constructed little novel filled with black humor and sharp satire. it begins with four men, ex-lovers of a dead woman, meeting up at her funeral. two of them, old friends, make a pact to kill each other if they become as insane as the recently deceased became toward the end of her life. that pact, unsurprisingly, has unexpected consequences as their friendship begins to spin out of control, devolving into hatred and revenge. many complain that ...more
Connie (Ava Catherine)
I enjoyed the psychological tension Ian McEwan so deftly stoked in Amsterdam. How can a situation accelerate into chaos and loss so swiftly? Nothing is as it seems...

I enjoy McEwan's writing, the way he so cleverly crafts a story without excess verbiage. Letting the author unfold the tightly woven plot is truly a delightful reading experience.
Gloria Mundi
I needed something starting with A to read for the A to Z book challenge and this has been sitting on my shelf since I went through a frenzy of buying booker shortlisted novels several years ago, back when I was still keen to impress myself and fellow commuters with my reading choices.

The books starts with a funeral of Molly Lane, a member of that happy breed of fabulous women who has a horde of ex and current lovers with all of whom she remains friends. We never learn much else about her but sh
...more
Chas Smash
Mar 25, 2016 Chas Smash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es la segunda novela de Ian McEwan que leo. Me gusta su forma de narrar, no se explaya en hechos intrascendentes, va directamente al grano.
En este libro se centra en dos amigos y ex-amantes de Molly Lane. Vernon es director de un periódico londinense y Clive un afamado compositor. Tras la muerte de Molly a raíz de una enfermedad, los dos amigos se hacen la promesa de que si están en una situación similar, el amigo acabaría con el otro, ya que la eutanasia no está permitida.
A partir de aquí hay d
...more
Tanuj Solanki
Average Read.

McEwan belabored prose and over-engineered plot -- an overall swindling the reader into aceepting the final farce -- come up short rather pathetically. Each sentence carries a certain beauty, but as a whole the novel is colossally unconvincing. Never once does the reader care, think about, or even believe in, what McEwan is driving him into. I understand now why McEwan has been panned for his 'construction'. 'Amsterdam' - not too kindly for its author - seems to be a novel thought o
...more
Sara Gould
Maldito sea McEwan, me ha puesto MUY TRISTE.
Xandra
This was an average enjoyable thriller until it turned into a tacky euthanasia joke. The disappointment is all the more bitter as the book does raise a few good ethical questions particularly the ones pertaining to the political subplot: are the private lives of political candidates off limits when the interests of the country are involved? Is it reprehensible for journalists to disclose personal information in order to save the country from a future of regressive politics?

The opening sequence
...more
George
May 05, 2012 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of modern fiction and other McEwan novels
Amsterdam is a superb, eerie book. In it McEwan's theme is the moral limit of man when the potential for personal greatness and fame is present. At certain points the relentless selfish ambition of characters is astounding.

McEwan constructs a world that is recognisably our own using key components of modern society and culture, and roots every idea and word that he writes in our time and place. This is something that I love about McEwan's work: it is situated in a dimension that is recognisable,
...more
Will
Nov 04, 2013 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Clever and well-written in McEwan’s usual precise style but a bit too contrived, especially at the end. I think really only 2.5 stars.

Two friends, ex-lovers of the recently deceased Molly, duke it out when Molly’s husband lets them know about some compromising transvestite photos of a third lover, who is slated to become Britain’s next PM. There is a fair bit of sardonic humour involving the two friends – Clive, a musician commissioned to compose an Opus for the Millennium (this is 1998) and Ver
...more
Kellie
Sep 25, 2008 Kellie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007-reads
-This book was very odd. The story begins with the death of Molly. Molly who was the friend of several men, and the lover of several others even though she was married. Two of her previous lovers, Clive and Vernon, attend the funeral and pay their respects. Then they go off and continue to live their lives, but they have both been changed as a result of the loss of their mutual friend. I am still trying to figure out what the plot was. Is jealousy the main theme or friendship gone array? Is it t ...more
David
Nov 15, 2009 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: david-giltinan@sbcglobal.net
In its favor, this was compulsively readable, enjoyable in its way, and pretty amusing. The clever plot probably doesn't hold up under any kind of careful scrutiny, though McEwan's writing is skillful enough to paper over some of the more glaring improbabilities.

Booker prizeworthy? I'm not so sure. But then the Booker jury is more or less famous for making odd choices.

I give it three solid stars, but no more. And I think the Dutch have a right to be pissed off about McEwan's imagined denouement
...more
Caitlin Thomson
Ian McEwen wrote Atonement, which I enjoyed immensely in spite of avoiding it for quite some time. Since then I have read The Comfort of Strangers (less then great – but it had it’s moments), On Chisel Beach (Horrible), and now Amsterdam. I read this immediately before The Emperor’s Children and had similar complaints about both of them in regards to unrealistic characters. Perhaps this is a trend in modern literature (as I have noticed it before), and is not failure on the author’s part but on ...more
Petra
Nov 16, 2015 Petra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This may be my favorite book by Ian McEwan yet. The story built with a tension that increased as the pages turned.
The themes of loyalty, friendship and career are intermixed throughout. A wonderful and well-written story. Of the three of his books that I've read, this one is by far the darkest.
None of these characters is likable but they all exist in real life. That's the scary, tension-filled part.
Steve
Aug 07, 2007 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How can someone who writes so well (like McEwan) make me so ambivalent about his prize winning book? By drawing darker, more degenerate characters than I would ever hope to know. I just didn't buy that people McEwan imbued with human thoughts and emotions to begin with could turn out to be so void of humanity in the end.
Monica
Jan 08, 2016 Monica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This won the Booker? Full review to come.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Dark Comedy? 4 53 Jan 17, 2016 04:39AM  
Clive's police testimony? *spoilers* 4 32 Aug 20, 2014 10:18PM  
What McEwan can teach fiction writers: double meanings and dramatic tension 1 51 Dec 02, 2012 11:38AM  
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
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“We knew so little about eachother. We lay mostly submerged, like ice floes with our visible social selves projecting only cool and white. Here was a rare sight below the waves, of a man's privacy and turmoil, of his dignity upended by the overpowering necessity of pure fantasy, pure thought, by the irreducible human element - Mind. ” 22 likes
“He would work through the night and sleep until lunch. There wasn't really much else to do. Make something, and die.” 19 likes
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