Saturday, August 14, 2010

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan


by Ian McEwan
published 1998
completed April 2010

The book begins at the funeral of Molly Lane and follows the story of two of her ex-lovers.  Vernon is the editor of a high profile, yet struggling newspaper, and Clive is a prominent composer.  Vernon and Clive were long-time friends and Molly's death has caused them to reflect on their own mortality. 

I don't quite know what to say about this book.  I had high expectations for Amsterdam having read Atonement and LOVED it.  I know it's unfair to compare, but after reading Atonement I thought about it for days, yet when I finished Amsterdam, I was apathetic.  It was well-written, but half-way through, I stopped caring about the characters.  They were selfish, egotistical, and disloyal.  The ending was disturbing and seemed unrealistic to me.

I know there are many people who love this book; it just wasn't for me.  If you enjoy Ian McEwan's writing and are willing to look past unlikable characters, it might be worth a try.

I chose this book for the Take Another Chance Challenge as a prize winner book.  Amsterdam  won the Booker Prize in 1998.


  1. Hi Kristi! I followed you here from your comment on The Avid Reader's Musings. A brand new blog! Congrats!

    I, too, first read Atonement (it's actually one of the very first books I blogged about) and then Amsterdam. The first seemed so much more well-developed and realistic. I didn't realize Amsterdam won a Booker Prize!

    Since you've read it recently, can you remember the name of the cemetery where the crematorium was? When I read Her Fearful Symmetry I wondered if the cemetery in that book (Highgate) could have been the same that was in Amsterdam, but I couldn't remember if the one in Amsterdam was named.

  2. I don't remember the name of the crematorium. I tried to search for it but I didn't see anything. I checked the book out from the library so I don't have access to it to look it up. That would be interesting to find out.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I've found that McEwan's books are wildly different. If you read one, you've read one ... not gotten a sense of what else he wrote.