Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 1998
The best-selling author of Atonement and Enduring Love, Ian McEwan is known as one of contemporary fiction’s most acclaimed writers. This Booker Prize-winning novel by McEwan finds two men connecting at the funeral of their ex-lover. Distressed by how she was slowly destroyed by an illness, the two make a pact to save each other from enduring such a fate.
©1998 Ian McEwan (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC
I respect Ian McEwan tremendously, and Atonement and Saturday are among my favorite books of all time. Amsterdam, while providing an engaging story and finely-drawn characters, left me a little cold. While I empathized with Clive's struggles to find meaning in his work and to resolve his conflict between self-absorption and separation, and found Molly to be the kind of flame that could draw moths from every corner, the plot seemed to be stretched a bit thin at times.
That said, I think that most of the action is interior, and McEwan delivers enough psychological insight to make this a compelling, if less than memorable, listen.
I generally prefer classics, with more complex plotting, but for the short form, I found this to be a provocative, well-written, and engaging listen. I listened while packing to move, and the story was intense enough to distract me at times, but not something that needed my full attention. The descriptions of musical composition and of aging were well done; they rounded out the story and gave it richness.
I saw it as a modern fable, so the far-fetched ending didn't bother me. The reader was great. Definitely a worthwhile listen.
I enjoy McEwan in both audio and written form. Just finished "The Children Act" read by Lindsey Duncan and found it completely absorbing. Amsterdam's summary sounds intriguing, but the work and I failed to engage, even after repeated attempts. Seems uncharacteristically muddy, the characters never individuate and the plot doesn't rise to distinguish from the wordy dialogue. I remain a fan of other McEwan titles.
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