Honestly, if this book was written by any other author than Ian McEwan, it would have gotten two stars from me. But it was written by Ian McEwan, and there’s just something about the way he strings his words together that enchants me, regardless of how interesting I find whatever else is going on in his books at the time.
Amsterdam is thankfully a concise book (with relatively large typeface and small pages), so no great investment of time on my part. The catalyst to the events of the plot is the death of Molly Lane, an apparently beguiling middle-aged British artist/socialite, from a pretty horrible sort of brain-wasting disease that is never specified. Two of her former lovers convene at her memorial service and have a confrontation with a third of her previous lovers that neither one of them likes (he’s a politician, and both of them being ‘artists’ — a journalist/newspaper man and a composer — consider him beneath them as human beings). Soon after, a secret about the politician is found among Molly’s things that could ruin his career. This discovery sets in motion a chain of events that cause the two lovers to re-evaluate their lives and their friendships, which sounds exactly like the sort of hogwash you’d normally find on the jacket of a book, but which I don’t want to make any plainer in case you still want to read the book.
Anyway, it doesn’t read as hogwash, and the way McEwan navigates their changing friendship (and the way he portrays them doing their jobs) was rather interesting.
I just didn’t much care in the end. I didn’t care about the characters, and therefore didn’t care about the situations they found themselves in. The only part of the novel I found truly affecting was the way the composer thought about his music, but even that was undercut by the ending.
Ah, well. I suppose even a favorite author will turn something out that doesn’t hit your wavelength every once in a while.