November 16, 2010

Amsterdam - Ian McEwan


I didn't have a lot of time to devote to reading over the past weekend so I was on the look out for a sharp, quick read that would hold my interest and satisfy my lust for a good story.

Amsterdam was the perfect choice! The only other book by McEwan I have read is Atonement - which I think is a wonderful book in so many ways but for some reason I have never read another novel of his up until now (maybe I was afraid another book would ruin the image of almost perfection I had for his writing??).

Amsterdam starts off with two old friends, Clive and Vernon, attending the funeral of another one of their long time friends - and lover to both of the men at various stages in their lives - Molly.

The funeral scene enables McEwan to set up the history of the friendships and the relationships between these three characters and others who have been a part of their history and present.

Clive is a composer about to finalise a symphony he is writing to celebrate the upcoming millennium and Vernon is a newspaper editor - both men are successful in their careers and clearly see their professional roles as a defining part of who they are.

Throughout the novel both Clive and Vernon's careers - and their dedication to them - will come into question as they are both placed in the position of making two very different moral decisions that will impact on their careers, and subsequently, their lives.

I found this book gripping - I think McEwan has a fantastic ability to write the inner minds of characters in such a way as to make you feel you are in their space with them. Reading other reviews of this book it seems that many readers were not happy or convinced by the ending of this book - and if I was being completely honest I would probably have to agree with most of them but the way that McEwan draws you in to this story made it virtually impossible for me not to stay with him right until the very end. That's the sign of a brilliant story teller for me.

I'm definitely on the look out for more McEwan reading now - can you tell me where you think I should look next?

19 comments:

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

I really enjoyed reading Amsterdam so thank you for the reminder of the novel. 'Saturday' is good if you'd like a London novel. I read 'A child in time' years ago - enjoyed it but remembering thinking it would be too harrowing to read if one had children. I'm not sure if you do have children but just incase.

fleurfisher said...

I liked Amsterdam, but I don't think it's Ian McEwan's best book. My favourite of those I have read is Enduring Love

Steph said...

This is one book that I will leave squarely with you! I read it last year, and it was the book that made me decide that Ian McEwan and I are not meant to be friends. I hated it! I found the writing to be overwrought, and thought the ending was really predictable. I just didn't enjoy it at all while I was reading it!

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I think I might have to pick it up to compare with the mixed reviews I've been reading! Your insight compels me to give it a try.

Becky (Page Turners) said...

Ian and I have a strained relationship. Sometimes I love his books and sometimes I think bashing my head against a wall would be a more pleasant experience than reading him (Saturday - I'm looking at you).

I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds like it has potential to be a good one.

Am I brave enough to try though?

aworldinthemselves said...

I mostly like McEwan, I really liked both Amsterdam and Atonement. You might try On Chesil Beach. It's fairly short and really gets into the minds of the characters. I didn't like it as much as the other two, but it went down better than some of his others I've tried.

Jessica S said...

You should read Juliet, by Anne Fortier. The story quickly sucks you in, and there is NO putting it down until Ms. Fortier decides she's done with you. Ha-ha! I actually MADE myself set it down, just because I never wanted it to end. My resolve lasted for about 30 seconds...

Karen said...

Hi Joan - I love London novels and I actually went out and bought "Saturday" today! I don't have children of my own - but I do have some especially cute and precious nieces and nephews!

Hi fleur - I saw Enduring Love at the bookshop today and it sounded interesting although a little harrowing...

Hi Steph - It looks as though we are at opposite sides of the reading spectrum on this one!!! At least it wasn't a very long book for you to suffer through!

Hi Coffee - it is quite a short book so if you find you don't like it there isn't a big, long book to have to get through!

Hi Becky - I don't know about your bravery level??? I've just bought Saturday so I will see if I love that one too or if I fall into your camp on it. Have you read Atonement?

Hi aworldinthemselves - I think I would like On Chesil Beach from what I have heard about it. I will have to give it a try.

Hi Jessica - I actually tried to read Juliet a few weeks ago as it was the book chosen as our bookclub book but I couldn't stand it at all!!! I gave up after about 100 pages - I just couldn't make myself read anymore. I'm not exactly sure what it was but I just didn't click with it unfortunately.

Simon (Savidge Reads) said...

Oh I am so pleased that you liked this book, some people really, really don't but I thought it was brilliant. Have you tried On Chesil Beach? I would soooo recommend that one.

nomadreader (Carrie) said...

Ian McEwan is currently at the top of my "must read" list. I can't believe I've never read any of his books. I've heard mediocre things about his newest one, but I plan to start with Atonement!

Mystica said...

I must look for this one! Thanks for the review.

Karen said...

Hi Simon - thanks for the recommendation - I am going to move on to that one after I have finished Saturday.

Hi Carrie - I think Atonement is a wonderful book in so many ways - hope you think so too!

Hi Mystica - Hope you enjoy!

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