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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Greek Tragedy
I enjoyed this immensely; a story with the elements of greek tragedy - characters full of their own success and importance (hubris) and then a plot race to the tragi-comic ending (nemesis). Reading it went by all to fast.
Published 6 months ago by Henry Morris

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cold in Amsterdam
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...
Published on 25 Feb 2007 by E. A Solinas


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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Contrived and pointless, 23 July 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
When I finished this book, I was left in shock. I was absolutely speechless, dumbstruck. "Is that it?" I thought. "This won the Booker Prize?" It made no sense. I'd never disliked a Booker Prize winner before. How could this one be so awful?
Then I read some of the reviews on Amazon and realised I was by no means alone. I actually enjoyed wooblywoobly's review (below) more than I enjoyed the book. It's not that Amsterdam is unreadable. McEwan's prose is light and accessible. But this novel is completely and utterly wrecked by it's horribly contrived plot. And I mean *wrecked*. It is shallow, unconvincing and feels rushed - ironically just like the music composed by the character Clive.
We're supposed to believe that these two typical middle class men, Clive and Vernon (a composer and a newspaper editor), could enter into a euthanasia pact and then attempt follow it through without any good reason to do so. They fall out and suddenly murder is on the cards. Does this sound like any typical middle class men you know? I do hope not. It is the most contrived story I have ever read.
This plot might have held together if McEwan had managed to include some kind of significant character development in the novel. But it's not there. The characters don't visibly descend into madness. They are completely soulless and their story is told with dry, suspenseless narration throughout.
Avoid this book!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amsterdam, 23 Jan 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
My Gran simply cannot understand why I like Ian McEwan novels and I simply do not understand why she cannot like them. Despite the fact that it had it written in massive letters on the front it wasn't until I was half way in that I saw that `Amsterdam' had won the Man Booker Prize in 1998. I don't know what the longlist was that year, I will look it up, yet I think its win is deserved.

This book is one of McEwan's books that show exactly why I think he is a great writer and why I love his novels. The start of the novel centres around the funeral of Molly Lane (brilliant character name) who `could still turn a perfect cartwheel at the age of forty-six' which I think is a brilliant way of summing up someone we never actually meet in a novel but who's death and affairs it centres around.

At the funeral are at least three of her ex-lovers whom she would still entertain whilst she was married to her husband George. Clive Linley is successful composer though slightly conservative who is looking to write his masterpiece. Vernon Halliday is the latest editor of The Judge a long ruining but sadly failing newspaper which needs a change in style. Julian Garmony is the foreign secretary who could become the next Prime Minister and possibly ruin the country forever. However though her relationship is what ties them together initially it is the actions that follow her funeral that change their lives forever.

Like `The Innocent' which I read earlier this year McEwan leads you down the garden path thinking that the story is about one thing when it is in fact about many. I have seen reviews where this is said to be a dull uninspiring book yet I was strangely gripped. I wonder if these people love `The Catcher in the Rye' and `Heart of Darkness'? After Molly dies photo's are found she took of Garmony cross-dressing. George gives them to Vernon and tells him to publish them, but should he, is he that desperate to shame Garmony and make The Judge successful again? When Linley goes away to the Lake District for inspiration and to get away does he see something that could have changed people's lives forever and will he love with the guilt, and why do the ex-lovers feel the need to carry on competing?

I thought this was a fantastic book possibly one of my McEwan favourites and there have been quite a few. If you want understated plots that have sudden shocks with characters that you would hate to meet but secretly would love to be for one day and fantastic prose then I can't see why you wouldn't love Ian McEwan and Amsterdam.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How did this end up a Booker Prize winner?, 2 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
Usually I look to the Booker Prize if I want to discover new novel by authors I do not automatically read - so I picked up "Amsterdam". What a huge disappointment. The plot is nicely executed - and I mean *executed*. While "Amsterdam" may be well-structured and plotted, the very contrived and overtly 'plotted' plot does undo the novel itself. Technically well-written, but should've remained an unpublished experiment. I hope this book isn't symptomatic for McEwan. I'm certainly not rushing out to read more of his novels.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Well written but lacking in substance, 18 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Amsterdam (Hardcover)
This booked was well written: it was easy to become absorbed in McEwan's world of newspaper editor's and orchestral composers, but I felt it was lacking as a whole. The characters were fascinating, but they were only just touched upon. The end was predictable from the middle, but the final moments were highly amusing. I read this book and felt like I had just watched The Truman Show: an excellent concept, but there was no real substance.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and thoroughly un-memorable, 9 Jun 2005
By 
G. Thulbourn (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
This book was dull and thoroughly un-memorable! A simple story that isn't particularly interesting nor intriguing, nor really leading anywhere in particular. Take the name Ian McEwan off the front and I personally don't think it would have got published.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I didn't believe a word, 26 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
This is a cold, contrived little book, that seems intentionally to keep the reader distanced from the characters. And who are these characters? - where did Ian McEwan meet them? They barely seem to exist in the same world as the rest of us. He is writing about universal emotions - jealousy, hubris, fear of senility - yet has tacked these emotions onto a bunch of cyphers, and enclosed them in a plot of childish predictability. Style has triumphed utterly over content.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunned by the dexterity of the "plot", 3 July 2013
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
Being unfamiliar with this author, I was curious about the title, having just visited Amsterdam. I was also somewhat curious about the front-cover mention of the book being a Booker Prize winner, as this has not always been a reliable indicator of a "good read" for me. Having just finished the novel, I can honestly say that I am "blown away."

The masterful manipulation of language kept me going right to the end. I particularly enjoyed the emotionality of the description of the process of artistic creation (not being at all musical), as well as the lyrical descriptions of the countryside in the Lake District. The biting sarcasm about commercial and political relations in London rang true of the business world.

With regard to character development and exploration, I found it fascinating how the two protagonists are drawn out in front of our eyes. We see their bombast, narcissism, and amorality while they pursue their own destinies in a sea of self-unawareness. It is salutary in this sense to reflect on how we each see ourselves versus how others see us. A scary thought!

The tension in the novel builds unremittingly until just before the end we get a sense of the impending doom. Somewhat less expected is the crow of success from one of the less appealing characters who becomes the "last man standing."

I especially liked the author's technique in the final scenes where conscience takes the form of a lost loved one, condemning each character to the ultimate in final self-deception.

I rarely rate any written work as a 5-star piece, so this work will definitely remain on my shelf as something to re-read and enjoy again. I am now ready to read more from this author.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A light read, 7 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Amsterdam (Hardcover)
As a marker of standards within contempory literature I found this book to be a lightweight read. Sadly the predictable plot was not compensated by either good character development or arresting prose. The Booker prize is always an event to look forward to but surely the winning choice has never been such an anti-climax.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 7 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Amsterdam (Kindle Edition)
Always enjoy reading his books but this is not among my favourites.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This won the Booker Prize? Really?, 26 Jun 2014
By 
C Perkes - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
I am a great admirer of Ian McEwan, having enjoyed "Sweet Tooth" and "The Innocent". But this novel is just mediocre. It's not bad, although the finale is predictable long before the author reveals it. It's not boring, though I read more about music composition than I ever want to know. I don't even object to it's brevity. It's just not very good. The sole service it renders to literature is to make one curious to read the other 1998 booker candidates. Surely they can't be this average.
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Amsterdam
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (Paperback - 2005)
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