Amsterdam
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Amsterdam

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  23,177 ratings  ·  1,730 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 ShakespeareA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  SmithAmsterdam by Ian McEwanDeath in Venice by Thomas MannNotre-Dame of Paris by Victor Hugo
Cities
3rd out of 226 books — 35 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 Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Modern British Novels I've Enjoyed
70th out of 409 books — 361 voters


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will
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
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 18, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Chris
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
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
Alison
Oct 27, 2009 Alison rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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
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
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
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
Madeline
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
Maciek
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
George
May 05, 2012 George rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
David
Nov 15, 2009 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Lobstergirl
Feb 18, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Henryk Górecki
Shelves: fiction

Maybe a bit too neatly tied up with a bow for my taste, almost in the manner of O. Henry. Still, I liked it three times better than the egregious Saturday. At first I thought I was going to be annoyed by Clive Linley, a composer who has been called, to his irritation, "the thinking man's Gorecki" and who is depressed to learn that children play his music. But Clive grew on me, a little fungally it is true, but he grew. I don't know what McEwan knew about music before setting out to write this, b...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
Becky
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
Anastasia
Più modesto rispetto ad altri letti di McEwan. Nello spessore di certo (non è che Chesil Beach fosse più dilatato, in realtà, ma era decisamente più potente) e ho avuto la sensazione che lo fosse pure nelle possibilità effettive dei contenuti, e ho pure la sensazione che le possibilità effettive dei contenuti siano ridotte proprio per via del trattamento dato nel giro di 170 pagine.
La brevità non è sinonimo di trascuratezza o quel doloroso "potevi fare di più", ma in questo caso la parte più ist...more
Kellie
-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
Caitlin Elizabeth
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
Bojan Gacic
For the life of me, I could not comprehend what this one was all about. Perhaps my abilities to perceive and ascertain, no doubt established on one's age, have yet to come a certain way.

Two men, two successful professionals, two best friends- their bond, a women they were involved with in the past. The insecurities of middle age are a recurring motif of
''Amsterdam'', however McEwan kept me baffled here. Was it their obsession with Molly Lane that triggered their mutually tragic deed; or was it...more
VivaPalestina
It's hard knowing where to start with this review, I couldn't help drawing lines of similarities between this book, and the other shadowy version of Enduring Love that remains in my mind. In both we start off with a death, in both we have the stories of a group of people brought together by a person, an incidence of death. His style while unique is similar in his books I think; and both allow us to become part of the characters minds and thoughts.

Amsterdam is a story of the four lovers of Molly,...more
Stephanie
I have become a full-fledged devotee of Ian McEwan. Along with Zadie Smith, he's currently my favorite writer.

It takes most of the novel for McEwan's characters to get to Amsterdam, but there are memorable chapters in London and out in the Lake District along the way. The novel is centered around a couple of friends, each of whom has been lovers and friends with Molly, who is memorialized at the beginning of the book. They then end up on opposite sides of an ethical dispute after having promised...more
Blair
I'm beginning to think that the shorter a book is, the less I have to say about it. Amsterdam is a very short book and, while I enjoyed it, at the end I felt more like I'd finished a short story than an actual novel. It's the tale of two friends - Clive, a successful composer troubled by (the musical equivalent of) writer's block, and Vernon, a newspaper editor whose career is beginning to flounder - and their involvement in a plot to terminate the career of Julian Garmony, a right-wing politici...more
Stephen P
as a break from reading proust's in a budding grove i quickly found the characters intriguing,the sparse bare prose admirable, and the narrative witty and gripping. then mcewan began leaving his fingerprints all over the manuscript, practically announcing, i am planting this here so you can predict what will soon unfold. i found the ending crossing the line from witty to slapstick absurd. my disbelief had already been suspended to the point of snapping. i think that mcewan could not make up his...more
Steve
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.
Chris
I swear I tried to read Atonement. I did. I got to page 30 something and (1) figured out the whole plot, including the ending and (2) wanted everyone to die because the Germans dropped a bomb on the house.

I couldn't figure out why people loved it. I almost didn't pick up this because of it. Luckily for me(but not for Mr. McEwan because I got this copy for free), a friend told me that this was a good book.

She was right.

It is a rather depressing yet funny, yet dark book. It reminds me on one level...more
Belinda
McEwan has come a long way since 1998 when "Amsterdam" was published, which really is remarkable considering that most authors would kill to have the remarkable prose style of even the early years of McEwan. But nonetheless, if you've read his later works (like I have) and then are working your way through his other works, you will discern the growth of his style.

But, onward with "Amsterdam." It's a short work, and easily a "leave me alone, I'm going to read the *whole* thing now" book of fewer...more
Tanja
Dec 28, 2007 Tanja rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those that like a comeuppance
Shelves: fiction
After I put down the book, two thoughts immediately crossed my mind. These thoughts had begun to form while reading, but they remained hesitant and unfocused, and only really solidified afterwards. One was a general sense of unpleasantness mostly centered on the characters, primarily their selfish disregard for others, their inability to acknowledge their own faults while at the same time being quick to respond to perceived slights and faults in others. They were always capable of justifying the...more
Barbara
The book opens with two old friends who reunite at a funeral.Both had been former lovers of Molly, who has died after an inexplicable illness. Despite the fact that these men are accomplished in their own lives,for tenuous reasons,they enter into a suicide pact.The balance of this novel is devoted to their descent into their complete personal and moral undoings. The whole complexion of this story was dark and depressing.The main characters seemed unlikable and self-centered.

This is a sharp contr...more
Laurie
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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...more
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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. ” 17 likes
“He would work through the night and sleep until lunch. There wasn't really much else to do. Make something, and die.” 16 likes
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