Friday, November 7, 2008

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan - Jackie's Review

‘Amsterdam’ by Ian McEwan won the Booker prize in 1998. It begins at Molly’s funeral, which is attended by her husband George, and three of her previous lovers: Vernon, Clive, and Julian. In the days after her funeral Clive and Vernon make a pact that binds them together forever.

I read it in one sitting, but this was more due to the fact it was such a short book, rather than because it was any good. It was fairly well written, but the characters failed to engage me. I found many sections quite dull, and started to wish the book would end, so I wouldn’t have to endure them any more. I’m sure there was a lot of humour and irony in there, but it’s not that not the sort of thing that I find amusing.

The ending was a big disappointment. I could see it coming a mile off - even the cover illustration seems to give it away! The whole plot just seemed a bit child-like in it’s simplicity.

Overall, I was yet again disappointed by a Booker winner.


Originally posted here.


  1. People seem to either really love Amsterdam or really hate it. I absolutely love it -- I read it outloud to my husband after reading it myself.

    I think McEwan did a sly and masterful job of showing the characters as self-rightiously ridiculous, without making them bumbling fools. And I was delighted by the inevitable, comic-tragic conclusion.

    It is in my list of Top 10 favorite novels of all times. I think it as diabolically clever as Roald Dahl's best stuff.

  2. Yes, I think it must be a comedy thing. Books that are supposed to be ironically funny just don't seem to do it for me. My funny bone must be in the wrong place!