I finished reading Amsterdam last night and was tempted to write my review right away. Good thing I was feeling lazy. This is my second book by Ian McEwan. He has eight on my 1001 list. Before I say if I liked or hated it, here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:
On a chilly February day, two old friends meet in the throng outside a London 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 is Britain’s most successful modern composer, and Vernon is editor of the newspaper The Judge.Gorgeous, feisty Molly had other lovers, too, notably Julian Garmony, Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger tipped to be the next prime minister.
In the days that follow Molly’s funeral, Clive and Vernon will make a pact with consequences that neither could have foreseen. Each will make a disastrous moral decision, their friendship will be tested to its limits, and Julian Garmony will be fighting for his political life. A sharp contemporary morality tale, cleverly disguised as a comic novel, Amsterdam is “as sheerly enjoyable a book as one is likely to pick up this year” (The Washington Post Book World).
When I read the last page last night, my initial reaction was, “What a horrible book.” I emailed The Better Half, who read it earlier this year and recommended it, and said, “Really, that was the end?” I won’t tell you the end, but it made me mad and disgusted me. I couldn’t believe it. TBH loved the book and we discussed it later in the evening. I was still in the mood to hate it.
Today I’m realizing that the book is pretty good. I didn’t like any of the characters in the novel. I’m not the type of reader who has to connect or like the characters to enjoy a book. Clive and Vernon were annoying to me from the beginning, but something kept me reading. McEwan has a tendency of going on and on when it comes to detail. However, I don’t mind it as much when he does it. I notice it, but it doesn’t grate on my nerves like some authors.
If I hated it last night, why do I like it today? Because I keep thinking about it. Not many novels make me ponder longer than an hour or so. I have a feeling it will be a while before I forget this one. It’s not a horror novel by any means, but it did scare me. The characters are vile, and yet they are the type of people we may know in real life. That’s terrifying to me. This book got under my skin. It annoyed me. Angered me. Made me want to throw it across the room. For those reasons, I say it’s a good book. It’s not the type of book for everyone, but if you can stomach it, you may feel the same way.
McEwan won the Man Booker Prize for this novel in 1998. I can see why. Now that I’m done, I need something lighter. Up next is Emma by Jane Austen.