44. ‘The Light of Amsterdam’ by David Park

The Book:

‘The Light of Amsterdam’ is narrated by three characters. They each travel to Amsterdam – one for a hen weekend, one for a Bob Dylan concert, and one for a holiday with her husband – and their lives are changed by the trip. There is soul-searching and self-analysis, revelation and betrayal, and by the time they return home none of them are the same.

At first I quite enjoyed this book. I liked the way it switched between characters and how Park revealed more and more details about their lives. All the characters are quite complex and it was interesting to see how similar they were to each other: all had deep insecurities and problems with their closest relationships, which came to a head during the trip.

Stylistically, though, there were plenty of things that wound me up. The characters were always looking for places to talk; wherever they were wasn’t good enough. This might be technically realistic, but written down it just comes across as unnecessary fluff. Park would make a point, and then make it again, and then again, rewording it each time: it wasn’t subtle and sometimes I found myself thinking, ‘Yes, I’ve got it, move on’.

It seemed like this story could have been set in any foreign city – it didn’t HAVE to be Amsterdam – and I wanted the city to have more of a presence in the story. Essentially I felt the characters did a lot of moping around and didn’t really come close to changing anything. And then there was this quote, which I had to laugh at for its sheer ridiculousness: “There was always something private and unspoken that passed between women…”

I realise I’ve torn this book apart a little and that might not be entirely fair: it may not be a particularly good book, but it isn’t terrible either. There are good moments and some impressive writing. Just lose a few annoying habits and this book would be a million times better.

“How could it be possible to stay the same and not also become part of that growth the ever increasing weight of solidity that made a life established and perfectly fixed?”

The Background:

I got this from NetGalley. I love their website – so many free books to request!


If you enjoyed my review, why not buy the book and let me know what you think?

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