Amsterdam

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Amsterdam

by Ian Mcewan

Knopf Canada | May 26, 1999 | Trade Paperback

Amsterdam is rated 3.25 out of 5 by 8.
A National and International Bestseller
A Globe and Mail Notable Book of 1998

On a chilly February day two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence — Clive as Britain's most successful modern composer, Vernon as editor of the broadsheet The Judge. But gorgeous, feisty Molly had other lovers too, notably Julian Garmony, the Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger poised to be the next prime minister. What happens in the aftermath of her funeral has a profound and shocking effect on all her lovers' lives, and erupts in the most purely enjoyable fiction Ian McEwan has ever written.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 192 pages, 7.95 × 5.1 × 0.6 in

Published: May 26, 1999

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676972179

ISBN - 13: 9780676972177

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Truly Butchered Ending. Final Verdict: 4 out of 10. Very slow. Interesting tragic ending, but simply lacked the charisma that the audience knows is Ian McEwan.
Date published: 2008-06-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dissapointed ... A short & easy read but compared to this author's other works, this story was definitely a let down. I found I wasn't able to connect to either the story or the characters at all and if this book was able to pull of the Booker Prize - then it makes me wonder what criteria they look for when choosing a winner?!? I'd say spend your time & money on something else ...
Date published: 2005-12-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Booker? Impossible! I read Atonement and was impressed by the high quality of the writing anf the interesting ending. Amsterdam has neither, This bookmwas a poor imitation of Evelyn Waugh. It was a chore to read (even though it read as though it had been written in a weekend). I can not imagine what the criteria is for winning the Booker if this book won it.
Date published: 2004-01-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Booker? This book won the 1998 Booker prize. When I picked up this book I was expecting a lot – I was expecting something profound, something that would make me ponder life long after I put the book down. I have to say, I was disappointed. The story was simple, entertaining and very clever; but profound it was not. The two main characters in the story are Vernon Halliday, an editor for a struggling newspaper, and Clive Linley, a semi-famous composer on the brink of his life’s masterpiece. Clive and Vernon are old friends even though they have nothing in common besides each being a former lover of the deceased Molly Lane. In the span of the novel, both characters face a major moral dilemma, and in the end, each judges the other for their actions. Perhaps my expectations were unfair, based simply on the Booker seal of approval plastered on the cover. Or perhaps it just didn’t deserve the Booker in the first place.
Date published: 2003-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from HampsterDance? "Amsterdam" does bear some resemblence to the "Hampster (sic) Dance" website. It's cute. It's deceptively clever -- actually, very clever, even the title is very clever -- but it's over pretty quick. On the other hand, it will probably stay with you for a long time. There have been many comments about whether this book deserved the Booker. I really don't know how they judge these things, but having just finished "Sacred Hunger" by Barry Unsworth, another Booker winner, I can see that 'sweat' does not count. In any case, I'm glad I read it, but it does have a pretty high price/pleasure ratio.
Date published: 2000-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect I can't help but be surprised that this won a Booker since it is actually a very short, simple and, some might (and obviously do) say not very substantial story. Nevertheless, it's a perfect little gem of a novel. Every page, every character, every sequence is simply wonderful. It makes me a newspaper editor, and then a composer, and then in the end it makes me rejoice in being myself. One added charm is the physical book itself -- this edition is on thick paper with large print, with a solid paper cover and is distinctly lacking excessive blathering reviews, bios and other nonsense. I would probably have bought this book just for the way it feels in my hands... what a wonderful bonus that it also feels nice for the brain.
Date published: 2000-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from What Happened? This is a case of publicity hype getting the better of me. Although I found the story itself quite original and interesting, the excitement surrounding it prepared me for something much more substantial. I would recommend this book as an enjoyable piece of fiction, but warn those who are attracted to it by the allure of the Booker, be prepared for some disappointment.
Date published: 2000-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amsterdam Probably one of my favourite books of the year. The story is one of love, friendship, tragedy and, above all, dealing with tough moral choices. The two main protagonists, Clive Linley, a composer, and Vernon Halliday, a newspaper editor, are both former lovers of Molly Lane. The novel begins with both men attending Molly's funeral in London. Of course, the novel involves British politicians caught in embarrassing sexual acts (what coverage of British politics would not include a sex scandal?). Well worth the read and very deserving of Britain's 1998 Booker Prize!
Date published: 1999-04-19

– More About This Product –

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

by Ian Mcewan

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 192 pages, 7.95 × 5.1 × 0.6 in

Published: May 26, 1999

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676972179

ISBN - 13: 9780676972177

Read from the Book

Two former lovers of Molly Lane stood waiting outside the crematorium chapel with their backs to the February chill. It had all been said before, but they said it again."She never knew what hit her.""When she did it was too late.""Rapid onset.""Poor Molly." "Mmm."Poor Molly. It began with a tingling in her arm as she raised it outside the Dorchester Grill to stop a cab -- a sensation that never went away. Within weeks she was fumbling for the names of things. Parliament, chemistry, propeller she could forgive herself, but less so bed, cream, mirror. It was after the temporary disappearance of acanthus and bresaiola that she sought medical advice, expecting reassurance. Instead, she was sent for tests and, in a sense, never returned. How quickly feisty Molly became the sickroom prisoner of her morose, possessive husband, George. Molly, restaurant critic, gorgeous wit, and photographer, the daring gardener, who had been loved by the foreign secretary and could still turn a perfect cartwheel at the age of forty-six. The speed of her descent into madness and pain became a matter of common gossip: the loss of control of bodily function and with it all sense of humor, and then the tailing off into vagueness interspersed with episodes of ineffectual violence and muffled shrieking.It was the sight now of George emerging from the chapel that caused Molly's lovers to move off farther up the weedy gravel path. They wandered into an arrangement of oval rose beds marked by a sig
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From the Publisher

A National and International Bestseller
A Globe and Mail Notable Book of 1998

On a chilly February day two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence — Clive as Britain's most successful modern composer, Vernon as editor of the broadsheet The Judge. But gorgeous, feisty Molly had other lovers too, notably Julian Garmony, the Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger poised to be the next prime minister. What happens in the aftermath of her funeral has a profound and shocking effect on all her lovers' lives, and erupts in the most purely enjoyable fiction Ian McEwan has ever written.

About the Author

In a 1987 interview in Publishers Weekly, Ian McEwan said, "[W]hen you love someone, it's not uncommon to measure that love by fantasizing about his absence. You gauge things by their opposite." In McEwan's works, the opposite is a theme. His characters may take action that seems opposite to all sorts of things, their best interests, their lovers, their friends, their morals, or their political, religious, or rationalist beliefs. This is the tension and the story. And it is this, along with his acute and beautifully written observations about the opposites that infuse our lives, that keep readers waiting for the next McEwan novel.

McEwan is the author of two short-story collections, First Love, Last Rites and In Between the Sheets, and eight novels: The Cement Garden; The Comfort of Strangers, short-listed for the 1981 Booker Prize; The Child in Time, winner of the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; The Innocent; Black Dogs; The Daydreamer; Enduring Love; and Amsterdam, winner of the 1998 Booker Prize.

From Our Editors

Winner of the 1998 Booker Prize, Ian McEwan paints a darkly elegant comedy about the fierce nature of friendship and the deathly grip of love. Two old friends join a funeral for Molly Lane, outside a crematorium. Both Clive, Britain’s most successful modern composer and Vernon, editor of The Judge, had been her lovers before their careers took off. But the throng on that cold February day also included many of Molly’s other lovers, notably a man poised to become England’s next prime minister. The funeral sets off a strange chain of events, transforming the lives of Molly’s lovers in Amsterdam.

Editorial Reviews

"A dark tour de force, perfectly fashioned."
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A well-oiled machine....Ruthless and amusing."
The New York Times Book Review

"Beautifully spare prose, wicked observation, and dark comic brio."
The Boston Globe

"At once far-reaching and tightly self-contained, a fin de siécle phantasmagoria."
New York

"Ian McEwan has proven himself to be one of Britain's most distinct voices and one of its most versatile talents....Chilling and darkly comic."
Chicago Tribune

"By far his best work to date...an energizing tightrope between feeling and lack of feeling, between humanity's capacity to support and save and its equally ubiquitous penchant for detachment and cruelty."
The San Diego Union-Tribune

"You won't find a more enjoyable novel...masterfully wrought, sure to delight a reader with even half a sense of humor."
The Atlant Journal-Constitution

"McEwan writes the sort of witty repartee and scathing retort we wished we thought of in the heat of battle. On a broader scale, McEwan's portrayal of the mutually parasitic relationship between politicians and journalists is as damning as it is comic."
The Christian Science Monitor

Bookclub Guide

1. Talk about the tone of this novel. Is it ironic? Humorous? Menacing?

2. Think about Clive and Vernon and your feelings about each at different stages of the novel. Did those feelings change? If so, at what key points?

3. In a relatively short novel, the author devotes many pages to Clive's creative process. What do you think of the author's description of the process itself and of his decision to give it so much space?

4. At one early point in the novel, Vernon Halliday thinks this about himself, "[H]e was infinitely diluted; he was simply the sum of all the people who had listened to him, and when he was alone, he was nothing at all." Discuss this prescient statement, in light of Vernon's fate.

5. Discuss the role of lucky (and unlucky) coincidence in the novel: Vernon's rise in his profession due to "Pategate" or the story in the Judge about euthanasia in Holland that leads Clive and Vernon there.

6. Talk about the author's skill in showing the workplace; the composer's process and studio; the newspaper editor's office.

7. This novel is funny — the Siamese twins story, the sub-editor who could not spell — talk about the role of humor in the novel.

8. At different points in the novel, both Clive and Vernon think that Clive has given more to their friendship than Vernon has. Talk about the form and course of their friendship. Can friendships ever be equal?

9. The author suggests that years and success narrow life. Is this true to your experience?

10. The author withholds information throughout the novel, offering bits that are only fully developed later (the photographs of Garmony, the importance of the "medical scandal in Holland"). Talk about the author's use of suspense.

11. How shaky is Clive's moral foundation? Should he be allowed to condemn his fellow artists who "assume the license of free artistic spirit" and renege on commitments, even as Clive ignores the plight of a woman he witnesses being attacked?

12. Vernon wants to crucify Garmony for the greater good of the republic. Is this ever a valid reason to go after a politician? Do you agree with Clive that Vernon is betraying Molly's trust? Or do you side with Vernon in his wish to stop a vile leader from gaining power?

13. Talk about the parallels between the fictional political scandal the author creates and the real one that has occupied Washington, D.C., for the past year. Is the author commenting on U.S. politics and media with this novel?

14. Is everybody in Amsterdam a hypocrite?

15. Clive thinks he's a genius. How do you define genius? Does Clive fit the definition?

16. Talk about Molly and the importance of her role in the novel. Are there other examples in literature of characters who carry great weight and importance even though they never appear?

17. At Allen Crags where Clive watches the woman and man struggle, the author writes, "Clive knew exactly what it was he had to do....He had decided at the very moment he was interrupted." Was there any question in your mind at that point about what Clive's decision was? Were you correct?

18. What do you make of the author's choice to have Clive die happy, that is, unaware that he's been poisoned, but to have Vernon grasp in his last seconds "...where he really was and what must have been in his champagne and who these visitors were."