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The Light of Amsterdam Hardcover – 1 Apr 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (1 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408821362
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408821367
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 992,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

The Light of Amsterdam looks destined to become an international literary bestseller with immense human appeal. Echoes of the great Brian Moore are evident as is a sensibility similar to that of the US master Richard Ford, but Park is more than merely a fine writer with a great deal to say - as if that were not sufficient. He is an astute storyteller whose vision is sustained by instinct, intelligent observation and a sense of responsibility. There is also a determination to perfect his art. He was never going to settle for being very good; he wanted much more and has certainly achieved it (Eileen Battersby Irish Times)

A stealthily affecting novel, this could well give more famous names a run for their Booker money (GQ)

One of the shrewdest observers of the way we live now (Independent)

As Park's cast arrives in Amsterdam ... the momentum of the trip and Park's tumbling, lyrical prose keep you turning the pages (Daily Mail)

Like Jane Austen and EM Forster, Park sets his characters a moral examination ... Park never forgets that he is telling a story - or rather, several stories - but his method is dramatic ... The Light of Amsterdam is a very good novel indeed (Allan Massie Scotsman)

Book Description

The extraordinary new novel from David Park

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This beautifully written and compelling novel follows Alan, unwilling weekend guardian of his teenage monosyllabic son; Karen reluctant hen dragged to her daughter's hen night; and Marion, on a weekend break with her husband whose needs she no longer believes she can meet. Set against the background of a weekend trip to Amsterdam their stories skilfully unfurl to show that their loved ones are not completely who they imagined them to be. As two of the stories intersect you turn the page not knowing where you want the story to go or to end. David Park has been Northern Ireland's best novelist for the last twenty years and produced most of the meaningful fiction written about the troubles. In this novel, however, he has left that subject matter behind and the characters are dealing with a more universal issue - how to love someone who may not love you in return. Accessible and incredibly moving this is the best David Park yet (and that is saying something). So far, it is the novel of the year
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Enjoyed this book. Not overlong and a good story. Kept me interested to the end
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had never heard of this guy, I was just looking for books on Amsterdam. Most reviewers and profiles cast Park as a 'regional' novelist, maybe simply because there aren't that many world-class novelists from Northern Ireland. It's also true that he has a great talent for portraying middle-aged provincial life with empathy. But I thought this was a genuinely great book that transcends its regional setting and tells us a lot about human beings' hopes and fears and projections. It reminded me, funnily, of the great women novelists of the nineteenth century - Maria Edgeworth, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell. Someone should make a film version.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another beautiful book from David Park.
Each of the three main characters in this story is heading to Amsterdam; each with different hopes, fears and expectations of what the trip will bring them. Each will be surprised.
This book is primarily about love - its mark left on every page. Marion is going with her husband and plans to provide him with what she thinks he wants and needs to bring him happiness. Divorcee Alan is unexpectedly accompanied by his troubled teenage son and is (as well as firing enthusiasm within his own life) hoping to find a connection with him which will bring them back to a time when awkwardness and lack of understanding did not stand between them; when the love he had for his son was simple and unquestionably reciprocated. Karen is travelling with her daughter on her hen party, uncomfortable and not really wanting to go, but determined to be there for her. Karen has made it her life's work to make life good for her daughter and to protect her from harm.
The events which transpire for each character during their time in Amsterdam are often, on the surface, fairly mundane. But Park bathes the characters' thoughts, desires and actions in a light of value and importance which brings to the reader a sense of viewing ordinary life through special glass which has the ability to enlighten, enrich and bring a depth of meaning to the same. Each character will be lifted from their well-trodden path in life and placed on a new one because of their time in Amsterdam.
For me, the characters' stories illustrate beautifully the fact that some situations in life, which seem to be obviously controllable, can not be controlled, manipulated or worked out - there is always an unknown quantity.
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By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Three parties travel from Belfast for long weekends in Amsterdam. As their paths cross, and free of the constraints of home, they have an opportunity to take stock of their lives and address their deep seated dissatisfaction. It's not a new premise, but David Park draws his characters well. They might appear to be stereotyped at first blush, but Park has the sympathy and generosity to turn them into real, whole people with hidden qualities to balance their very obvious faults.

The novel opens with George Best's funeral cortege, winding its way through the streets of East Belfast. It grounds the novel. It shows us we are exploring a slice of life in Belfast - straddling the working class through Karen, a cleaner at a retirement home, visiting Amsterdam on her daughter's hen party; Marian, wife of a garden centre owner is worried that her husband is no longer interested in her, travels with him back to Amsterdam to relive a honeymoon; and Alan, forced by circumstance to take his teenage son with him as he travels to see Bob Dylan in concert. We see the characters in their home lives; we see them starting out their journey to the airport, and we see them finding their feet in Amsterdam. We see them taking decisions we would never take ourselves, we see them finding meanings that we would never find. But that's the point - these are people who are not like us. Although, as they grow and develop, as they use the clear light of Amsterdam to see themselves, we find connections. We care about their fates. There is humour but it is not a comic novel.

Amsterdam takes a bit of a back seat. The city is there, Rijksmuseum, red light district, canals and cafes, but it is only ever a backdrop for the human drama.
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