The Turndog Review: Amsterdam





Hello there and welcome to The Turndog Review: the books I read, reviewed.

I aren’t a professional critic, instead all I offer is my honest opinion into everything I read. However, I do this with a difference, as I don’t only offer my personal views on the Writing, Plot, and Story, but also the Book Cover, Book Marketing, and Author Website.

We live in a modern world where being a writer is different to years gone by, and I feel the whole experience of the book matters. This covers everything from the initial find, the actual read, and everything that follows. Therefore I hope this review not only offers a great insight into the book and author, but also into my own mind and what makes me tick.

So without further ado let’s begin, and today I focus on Amsterdam by Ian McEwan


Published: 1998

Read: January 2013

Discovered: Randomly bought in a second hand shop



I was recently recommended Ian McEwen, so when I came across Amsterdam in a second hand, London Book Shop, well, I considered it meant to be. 

It’s a short, speedy affair, but it quickly drags you into the world of the late nineties. It follows a few characters, but the main two are Vernon and Clive, two old friends who have shared a lover in the past; the recently passed Molly.

Both characters (indeed, everyone in the entire story) are successful people who live in London and experience the high-life. One is a renowned composer, the other is an editor at a dying newspaper, and a whole bunch of other high social types come and go.

When Vernon comes across some pictures of an MP he detests in a less than dignified manner, he wants to share it with the world and save his newspaper. He figures his best friend will agree, who also hates the man in question, but the two old friends differ.

The journey from here twists and turns as a variety of situations take course. Just when you think one outcome will play out, a thorn is pushed into your side and makes you jump to new conclusions. 

The end, in particular, is rather poetic, although it would be hard to guess this scenario earlier in the book.

All in all, it’s a fine story with some fine, fine writing.


The Good:

The author has a lovely way with words. This is literary writing at it’s best with long, dreamy sentences that play with your senses. It doesn’t bog down with superfluous nonsense though. I love poetic, wordy stories as much as the next person, but I hate it when it has little point.

This book doesn’t do this. Each word is carefully chosen and produces a sensuous dance in your ears.


The Bad:

I never felt truly immersed into any of the characters. It’s rather short, and because of this you don’t get to feel anything for anyone; at least not as much as you might have done.

Ultimately, each person in the book is quite despicable. I thought I understood Clive quite well, but even he turned out to be horrible. Not a bad thing, because this is merely what the story is about. I did feel the characters lacked a little… something, you know?


Book Cover:

The book I read was an old, dusty, cheap affair, whose cover was rather bland to say the least. As you can see, it’s far from eye catching.

Not much left to say I’m afraid. This is a latter edition where the publisher is clearly trying to mix things up.

Amsterdam UK


Book Marketing:

Like above, there is none. As this is a later edition (probably intended for schools and the like) it has nothing in it other than the words itself.

Don’t expect to learn about the author or anything else for that matter. You will read the story and nothing else.


Author Website & Engagement:

McEwan’s website is a fine example of what a big author’s should look like. It has plenty of info about him, his books, and his world in general, as well as the means to discover more if you should wish.

Facebook in particular seems to be his media of choice, with lots of images and updates to keep his supporters at the ready. It’s hard to expect an author of this size to be active at all times, but he does seem to try and connect with his readers wherever possible. I love this and hope other people take note.

It’s clean, simple, and damn groovy (that’s right, I said groovy)


I well and truly fell in love with the writing and I’m excited to read more McEwen. Although the book had little else in it, it’s hard to be upset with this as it was a later edition, and it’s clear the publishers were trying to lower the costs as much as possible.

It’s not a breathtaking read, and I’m sure I’ll quickly forget much of it, but the writing is lovely. I would recommend to any young writer who’s still trying to find their voice.

For all of this I give it…

4 Turndogs out of 5


Thanks for reading this version of The Turndog Review. I review every book I read, not only for the writing, but the marketing, website, and general communication from the author.

Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million

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