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Amsterdam

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  44,816 ratings  ·  3,351 reviews
On a chilly February day, two old friends meet in the throng outside a London 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, and Vernon is editor of the newspaper The Judge. Gorgeous, feisty Molly h ...more
Paperback, First U.S., 208 pages
Published November 2nd 1999 by Anchor Books/Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published December 1st 1998)
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IvanOpinion I agree. Up to them going to Amsterdam the book was entirely serious and believable. And suddenly it jumps into a ludicrous ending which might be fine…moreI agree. Up to them going to Amsterdam the book was entirely serious and believable. And suddenly it jumps into a ludicrous ending which might be fine in, say, a Howard Jacobson novel, but not in this one.(less)

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Average rating 3.43  · 
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 ·  44,816 ratings  ·  3,351 reviews


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Jim Fonseca
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: british-authors
A novel about moral dilemmas. From the title, the main theme is assisted suicide, legal in the Netherlands. Not only that, but suppose your lifetime best buddy asks you to pledge that you will accompany him to Amsterdam if he becomes incapacitated? The book opens with this theme at the funeral of a beautiful woman, 46 years old. She had been a lover or wife of four of the main male characters in the book. She died incapacitated from a debilitating disease. Her slimy husband took care of her and ...more
will
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Julie
About a month ago, I was introduced to Ian McEwan through his novel Atonement. I nearly consumed the damn thing, chewed its corners to bits and pieces, scribbled messy notes all over its pages. I was starved for more of his writing, and I ordered On Chesil Beach, post-haste.

On Chesil Beach is FABULOUS. Truly. So fabulous, in fact, that I was worried my husband might become annoyed at my new feelings for an actual LIVING writer. You see, he agreed to all of my dead literary lovers, those who were
...more
Lisa
I guess I will have to admit that the ethical questions Ian McEwan raised in this novel - focusing on political views, freedom of choice, sexuality and media coverage - are highly relevant and contemporary still, and the novel deserves to be read as one of the better McEwans.

My neverending frustration with him is perfectly illusrated in Amsterdam, though: I absolutely hate his endings. More often than not they seem constructed, abrupt, somewhat willed.

Maybe my relationship to McEwan novels woul
...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
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it

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
Iris
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Fabian
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A clear exercise on brevity, this is exactly what I mean when I say that contempo writers are cutting corners in telling their story with as little words, adornments, as possible, albeit establishing a more substantial umph! at the novel's conclusion. Sometimes.

The writer of "Amsterdam" used the same exact model to write a later book: an unsuccessful meditation on being filthy rich in modern London in "Saturday," an overall truly horrendous ordeal, & "On Chesil Beach", a work of repression...tot
...more
Alison
Jan 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Robin
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robin by: Julie
Starting with the exceedingly delightful and clever Nutshell, followed by the unequivocal work of perfection that is On Chesil Beach, this is the third Ian McEwan book I've gobbled up in a matter of weeks. This is also the 1998 winner of the Booker Prize.

I was hopeful that this would be the third in a sequence of ascending steps, each one that much more fine, each one defying writerly logic more than the one preceding it. But alas.

This Booker winner, while still full of writing that brings one t
...more
Darwin8u
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
"There really wasn't much else to do. Make something, and die."
- Ian McEwan, Amsterdam

description

It won the Booker, but wasn't my favorite Ian McEwan. Similar to The Children Act in its use of classical music (one of the main characters is a classical composer), it is almost too clean, too moralizing, too easily tied up. But really, those are my only major complaints. I found it fascinating at parts and love love love it when Ian McEwan writes fiction about composing or music.

There are a few writers I've
...more
Edward
What is this absurd nonsense. Everything I wrote yesterday about Black Dogs in terms of plot and characterisation applies equally to Amsterdam, except where Black Dogs attempts (but fails) to be a good novel, Amsterdam seems to lack even the intention. It is impossible to take this novel seriously. The characters are ridiculous. The plot is ridiculous. The entire novel is a setup to a conclusion so laughably stupid, that it made me want reevaluate my ratings of McEwan's other novels. Sure, i ...more
Duane
My third Ian McEwan and another excellent read. Not quite on the level of Atonement, but still good, good enough to win the Booker Prize. It has a different feel than the other two, more of a modern day intrigue. Interesting characters, though not all that likeable, a little too elitist for me, but McEwan's storyline carries the day. The best character may be the one they buried at the beginning of the book, Molly. McEwan should write a prequel centering around her character. 4 stars.

1998 Booker
...more
Madeline
Jan 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ugh, the-list
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
Jr Bacdayan
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Amsterdam, Ian McEwan
Amsterdam is a 1998 novel by British writer Ian McEwan. At the funeral of photographer and writer Molly Lane, three of Molly's former lovers converge. They include newspaper editor Vernon Halliday and composer Clive Linley who are old friends, and British Foreign Secretary Julian Garmony.

Clive and Vernon muse upon Molly's death from an unspecified rapid-onset brain disease that left her helpless and in the clutches of her husband, George Lane, whom they both despise. Neither
...more
Chris
Nov 18, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
Rob Baker
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
No one escapes this novel unscathed--not the individual characters nor the larger societal groups they represent: politicians, artists, journalists. Everyone is lambasted and all of humanity is seen as self-serving, self-deceptive, and lying. This misanthropic pessimism, however, is dished up with such wit, beauty of language, and precision of observation that its seismic cynicism didn’t totally bother me until the catastrophic and nihilistic ending.

The book asks important questions -- Can the a
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 16, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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 left to
...more
Betsy Robinson
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This is not a review-type comment, but my reaction to McEwan’s work, after reading my third novel by him, is that I love the familiarity I feel: the way he thinks about characters, the way they think about one another, the honesty about all the dark, embedded ego reactions. This is my primal, private language, so even though our writing styles are almost opposite—McEwan writes effortless narrative descriptions and inner dialogues that go on for pages, and I prefer the fewest words possible—I fee ...more
Kelly
Mar 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Fiona
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
A novella rather than a full length book, this was a very quick read. It’s my first McEwan and I didn’t know what to expect. I enjoyed the black humour and the satire - vaguely reminiscent of Muriel Spark but not so clever - and some of the writing is excellent. I thought the premise of the book and the ending were silly though. It just pushes itself into 4 stars because it’s made me want to read more of this author’s work and I did generally enjoy it.
Mike Puma
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Lisa
Shakespeare used to use Venice as a setting for wickedness and corruption because Italian cities were fair game and a beaut contrast to the respectabilities of England. McEwan has used Amsterdam as a place of freedom to do dreadful things with drugs and state-sanctioned deaths, and to deliver a shocking finale to this very entertaining book. A reviewer called Kirkham on Amazon dismissed this book as 'middle-brow fiction British style - strong on the surface, vapid at the centre', but I don't agr ...more
Sarah
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zread-in-2020
I really enjoyed this clever and dark little tale, which won the Booker Prize in 1998.
Friends Clive Linley, a celebrated composer, and Vernon Halliday, the editor of a newspaper, meet at the rather glum London funeral of Molly Lane, whom both fondly remember as a former mistress and longtime social confidante. Along with Molly's frosty widower, George, the two also re-encounter the prickly Julian Garmony, another of Molly's former lovers, a political conservative who is the current Foreign Secre
...more
Will Ansbacher
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Anuradha
Okay, I should probably start off by saying that I know not how to rate this book, or how to review it. The story itself was very polarising for me; the writing was beautiful, no doubts about that, but the story itself was very lacklustre. True, the prose, the writing of the book, for me, is the most important aspect, but in this case, I guess, I had expectations from the story as well. I've heard many good things about McEwan, and I can see why, he can make you feel. Even in a story that had ab ...more
Helle
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: english, 1001-books
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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading 1001: Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan 3 13 Aug 29, 2020 11:41AM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for Amsterdam by Ian McEwan 8 141 Aug 16, 2016 07:03AM  
Dark Comedy? 4 63 Jan 17, 2016 04:39AM  
Clive's police testimony? *spoilers* 4 53 Aug 20, 2014 10:18PM  
What McEwan can teach fiction writers: double meanings and dramatic tension 1 57 Dec 02, 2012 11:38AM  

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Ian McEwan studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970 and later 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 Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and
...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. ” 35 likes
“He would work through the night and sleep until lunch. There wasn't really much else to do. Make something, and die.” 30 likes
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