“Brilliant” is the word I would use to describe Ian McEwan’s novel, Amsterdam, which won the Booker Prize in 1998.

A master of shocking revelations and plot twists, McEwan has managed to turn a 178 page novel into a dark tale of morals, and vengeance.

The two main characters of this novel are Clive, a famous modern composer, and Vernon, an editor of a national broadsheet – two former lovers of Molly Lane, a character who dies at the beginning of this novel.

Due to Molly’s sudden death, Clive and Vernon enter into a strange agreement with each other – one that will later play an important role in their lives.

The story centers on the lives of the two self-important, self-aggrandizing characters, each thinking that he is more morally upright than the other.  Their immense sense of self-worth, morality, and loyalty to each other will push them to make decisions with shocking results.

Though short, Amsterdam is a very engrossing read.  It starts out slow, giving the readers a feel for the different characters.  The slow start will give way to more intriguing developments midway in the novel, then build up to a deliciously shocking denouement.

Toward the end of the novel, I wanted to close the book to prevent the inevitable from happening, but at the same time, rush to the final chapters to learn the outcome.

Amsterdam is a book you can read in one sitting – in fact, it’s a book that demands to be read in one sitting.  It will grip you, and hold, and in the end will leave you speechless.


Amsterdam – Ian McEwan (1998)

Vintage, (2005) – 178 pages

Personal Rating:  4/5

4 thoughts on “Amster-damn!

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