Amsterdam BOOK review (Ian McEwan]

Book Reviews
Amsterdam BOOK review (Ian McEwan]
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Aug 27, 1998, 05:21

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AMSTERDAM by Ian McEwan; Doubleday, 1998

One of the joys of reading is building a library which you cannot reasonably expect to catch up with. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan is one of the books I've had on my shelf since it was published in 1998, and at less than 200 pages, a nice follow-up to a much longer, and emotionally demanding novel I've recently read. Clive Linley is a famous composer preoccupied with his “Millennium Symphony,” while Vernon Halliday is an editor of a large daily London newspaper, struggling to up its circulation, if not credibility. The old friends meet at the memorial service of Molly Lane, by all accounts a vivacious, liberated woman who happens to be a lover to both men, as well as many others, including the Foreign Minister. What follows is a mature reflection on the nature of friendship and how people's moral views inevitably color their expectations of others. The mystery at the heart of this morality play is tight and beautifully written. I particularly enjoyed the figure of Clive Linley, the contemplative composer. It's rare to find a serious novel that gains the momentum of a page-turner. While the conclusion stretched my suspension of disbelief, Amsterdam is intense and vivid, and incidentally, won the 1998 Booker Prize.

-Wade Iverson

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