Customer Reviews for

Netherland

Average Rating 3.5
( 60 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Wow. Amazing book.

This book is most definitely one of the best books I have ever read. Hans appears to be this depressed, nonchalant character that pretty much lets his marriage and life go down the drain. But, deep down, you can truly tell that he cares about his family, especially Rach...
This book is most definitely one of the best books I have ever read. Hans appears to be this depressed, nonchalant character that pretty much lets his marriage and life go down the drain. But, deep down, you can truly tell that he cares about his family, especially Rachel.

Chuck - Now, he's another interesting character. He seems to want to be in everything, totally risky - Kind of like your average gangster immigrant. However, he seems to like Hans more than Hans likes Chuck. Hans sort of brushes him off as a regular guy - no real intent, or friendship worth cherishing. But, yet, Chuck goes out of his way to teach him to drive, meets him in Peekskill and then share stories of his brother (whom, he states, he never told anyone else about). More so, Hans is even listed as Chuck's Business Partner.

Part of me wants to blame that on Hans. He seems to be so apathetic towards many things, that he overlooks some valuable, and outlook-changing characters, such as Chuck. It's a shame he never acknowledged him before he died.

Book is most definitely interesting. Beautifully crafted and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. :)

posted by 339413 on November 9, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Did not live up to the hype

I remember when this book first came out, there was a lot of buzz about it in various magazines and periodicals. I selected it as the first book for a book club we were starting. I thought it would be topical as it was billed as the first post-9/11 American novel to d...
I remember when this book first came out, there was a lot of buzz about it in various magazines and periodicals. I selected it as the first book for a book club we were starting. I thought it would be topical as it was billed as the first post-9/11 American novel to deal with subject matter related to the tragedy.

No one in our book club liked this book. I will say that the writer has a way with words and his images are poetic and beautiful. Otherwise, the book is a massive bore. Uninteresting characters placed in uninteresting circumstances reacting in uninteresting ways. The plot meanders without regard to any sort of timeline so it's not clear when events are happening in relation to one another. I feel like this book was ambitious but not fully realized.

posted by Caledaravel on November 19, 2008

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  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Did not live up to the hype

    I remember when this book first came out, there was a lot of buzz about it in various magazines and periodicals. I selected it as the first book for a book club we were starting. I thought it would be topical as it was billed as the first post-9/11 American novel to deal with subject matter related to the tragedy.<BR/><BR/>No one in our book club liked this book. I will say that the writer has a way with words and his images are poetic and beautiful. Otherwise, the book is a massive bore. Uninteresting characters placed in uninteresting circumstances reacting in uninteresting ways. The plot meanders without regard to any sort of timeline so it's not clear when events are happening in relation to one another. I feel like this book was ambitious but not fully realized.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    Disappointing

    Like the last reviewer, I recommended this book for my book club based on the buzz and the fact this book was on the best 100 and even some of the best 10 books of 2008 lists. Only one member liked it and I think that was, in part, because she is Dutch. Were the rest of us missing something? The plot was puzzling, the characters were one dimensional and even unlikable with the sole exception of Chuck, the optimistic, confident immigrant so taken with his vision of the American dream. Rachel, the wife, was whining and self centered and Hans, the main character, was so disengaged from life that he appears more like a puppy dog who plays with anyone who throws him a ball than an adult professional. Pages of descriptions of cricket did not help either. Disappointing.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A waste of my time

    The book reviews on this are great, the novel...not so much. To wrap it up in one fair sweep: I was bored. The entire time, bored. There was no connection between the main character and his situation. He was stale and distant from everything about his wife leaving him to his mother's death. Finally in the last paragraph, the very ending of the book does he show this bit of humanness, this bit of reality that is poetic and genuine. Oh, I tried so hard to enjoy this book, I pressed on with it though I wanted to fling it to the floor. And still after getting over half way through I hadn't even touched on anything minutely interesting, so I skipped to the last ten pages or so and claimed it finished. And even those last few pages were stale as last year's bread and I found myself blah-blahing through sentences, trudging toward the ending like through two feet of wet sand. There is nothing compelling in the story, nothing to move you forward because the main character is not compelled, he cares nothing for what comes his way, for the people around him, whether his wife comes back to him. Certainly I don't blame his wife for leaving him in the first place (which, by the way, is not even pondered by the character on why she left) because I was also ready to fly to another country and be done with this man. I'm sorry, I don't agree with the famous reviews of this one. I am dissappointed and can't believe I bought a hardback edition of this, which is going to the used bookstore today. These are the kind of books that make me think some of these book reviews have cash incentives behind them. Simply boring, a waste of my time.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2008

    Wow. Amazing book.

    This book is most definitely one of the best books I have ever read. Hans appears to be this depressed, nonchalant character that pretty much lets his marriage and life go down the drain. But, deep down, you can truly tell that he cares about his family, especially Rachel. <BR/><BR/>Chuck - Now, he's another interesting character. He seems to want to be in everything, totally risky - Kind of like your average gangster immigrant. However, he seems to like Hans more than Hans likes Chuck. Hans sort of brushes him off as a regular guy - no real intent, or friendship worth cherishing. But, yet, Chuck goes out of his way to teach him to drive, meets him in Peekskill and then share stories of his brother (whom, he states, he never told anyone else about). More so, Hans is even listed as Chuck's Business Partner.<BR/><BR/>Part of me wants to blame that on Hans. He seems to be so apathetic towards many things, that he overlooks some valuable, and outlook-changing characters, such as Chuck. It's a shame he never acknowledged him before he died. <BR/><BR/>Book is most definitely interesting. Beautifully crafted and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. :)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2008

    Longwinded and boring

    I bought this booked based on a summer reading list I saw. What a big mistake. Post 9/11 in NYC, main character's wife leaves with child, he stays behind though they are from Europe, and meets strange people, mostly from playing cricket. Most sentences are extremely longwinded with an overuse of flowery language that causes your mind to wander. It is not written in a way to keep your attention, and I fall asleep every time I try to read it. Timeline bounces all over the place, and not in a good way. The characters seem unrelatable. I am forcing myself through this book because I feel like I must be missing something with good reviews from the literary, English major types, but I have decided they must like to pat themselves on the back when they can write a book where most sentences take up an entire paragraph. There has been nothing interesting or enjoyable about this book, and I have read many over the years. For just us regular people who like to read, I'd say this book is boring, disjointed, difficult to follow, and some parts too boring to read. It doesn't appear to get any better no matter how far into the 'story' you get.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Best Book in Many Years

    "Netherland" is, quite simply, the best book I've read in many years. I finished in tears and immediately started reading it again. What a beautiful, beautiful book.
    I have to say I'm amazed at some of the low ratings the book has received here. I would be curious to know where the readers who rate the book with one or two stars actually live. In addition to his meditation on the 'American Dream', O'Neill perfectly captures the mood of New York City in the first years after 9/11 and it may be that the simplicity, truth and honesty of the writing affects those who witnessed it on a daily basis in a radically different way. For me, "Netherland" was one of the most powerful reading experiences I'v ever had and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    Interesting read

    I found the book interesting to read, but it did not engage me. I read it with my book club and the book did provoke a lively discussion. I am glad I read it and thought it worthwhile. However, I would not recommend it to the casual reader. It takes perseverance to get through some of the parts.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    USA after 9/11

    Netherland by Joseph O'Neill is now in paperback. Its ISBN is 007275706 and it is published by Harper. It is a complex book with long sentences balanced with elegant prose. It has many intellectual contemplations and it is indeed a great literary novel. Some readers will find its jumping back and forth in time confusing. The plot is America through immigrants eyes after Sep 11th and on the verge of the Iraq War.It discusses New York City and cricket at length, the many pages of detail I could have done without. The story centralises around Hans a banker who lives in Chelsea Hotel after 9/11. His wife Rachael has left him and taken their child to live in London. Hans is devastated and mixes with other immigrants in New York. We read of their dreams, seeing the US as outsiders looking in. His friend Chuck wants to introduce cricket into the US but then this rogue is found dead. Rachael comes back to Hans in the end. This stands as a metaphor of hope and strength and rebirth of the US. I found it unncessarily detailed and long winded in places and would have liked more development of story and characters. It is well written and I do recommend you read this. This is reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of Always and Forever and The Honey Trap.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    maybe a metaphor

    Until we discussed this book at our monthly book club meeting,did I understand that the book is really about immigrant integration in the US.It is extremely well written but a very slow development of plot/purpose.6 of the 8 members vetoed the book at the start of our discussion. Most of us felt no connection to the main character[or any of the characters for that matter] and were totally bored with the cricket focus. Our long discussion led us to a deeper understanding that the story is perhaps a metaphor for the way the US is culturally changing with the integration of our new citizens from abroad.It took all 8 of us to figure this out and I must add that we are all highly educated serious readers.The discussion was far more interesting than the book itself!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2009

    Thought-provoking, lovely language, works on many levels

    This novel makes connections at many levels. What are the dreams that people bring to New York City and the United States? How does a couple deal with the post-traumatic shock of 9/11? How does a young man trace his identity to his homeland? What are the reflections of culture and identity in New York State, the Netherlands, and England? Brilliant book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Netherland and New York Meet

    The writing is beautifully crafted with images I will remember long after the reading. Some of my favorites were the cricket field, NY, and later in the book with sun messing the water. London, NY, and Holland just before 911 are the settings where characters come alive with thoughts, actions, and reflections that sometimes seem dreamlike. The main character is a young man from Holland, working in London. As he travels, works, and experiences his marriage, parenthood, the sport of cricket, and some unusual friendships the plot unfolds. When I read the last sentences I was vitally aware of the growth. I thought it was a very good read and it replays in my mind even weeks after completing it. Cricket, family, NY. moms and the perspective captured me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2008

    A reviewer

    Written with proper words in proper places, this astonishing and complex novel was a joy to read. In contrast to its plain cover, this marvelous novel, written in mellifluous and elegant prose, is complex its world sprawling and vast, with mind-boggling depth. After reading only two pages, I found myself charmed by its narrator¿s voice, and my mind glued to his world. On the surface it is the story of its narrator, a banker named Hans van den Broek , born and raised in Netherlands, and working in London. While working in London in a bank, he meets an Englishwoman named Rachel and marries her. They have a son named Jake. In 1990¿s, they relocate to New York and live in TriBeCa. After the terrorist attack on the Word Trade Center on 9/11, however, they relocate again, and decide to live in the Chelsea Hotel. But Rachel¿s fear of another terrorist attack and the toxic political atmosphere in the United States create stress in their marriage, and the stress in turn compels Rachel to move with her son, once again, back to London. Underneath this story, there is another story about a Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon. Chuck is a shady character. He runs a fraudulent and illegal numbers racket and a kosher sushi business. But like all men, even a man from the under-world, he has big ambitions and a dream of starting a world-class cricket field and cricket club in Staten Island and of turning cricket into a national sport in America. The third story inter-woven with the other two is the story of the game cricket itself and its ardent players at the Staten Island Cricket Club, immigrants from countries such as Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Bahamas, and other tropical countries. Mr. O¿Neill weaves the three strands into a lovely braid, his lyrical prose serving as an adornment, like a rope of jasmine that often adorns a braid in tropical lands. The most striking feature of this novel, without a doubt, is Mr. O¿Neill¿s elegant and flowing prose, smooth and free from jarring edges and ripples, and as lovely as the very best I have read in my fifty years of romance with the English language: ¿The day was thick as a jelly, with a hot, glassy atmosphere and no wind, not even a breeze from the Kill of Kull, which flows less than two hundred yards from Walker Park and separates Staten Island from New Jersey. Far away, in the south, was the mumbling of thunder. It was the kind of barbarously sticky American afternoon that made me yearn for the shadows cast by scooting summer clouds in northern Europe, yearn even for those days when you play cricket wearing two sweaters under a cold sky patched here and there by a blue tatter ¿ enough to make a sailor's pants, as my mother used to say.¿ Mr. O¿Neill¿s command over the English language is such that even his long sentences glide on the pages without annoying the reader. If you are in search of that rare novel with a complex and fascinating story and written in elegant prose, read this novel to experience the joy of reading.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2014

    This brilliantly written novel by Joseph O┬┐neill, Netherland con

    This brilliantly written novel by Joseph O’neill, Netherland continuously keeps you entertained. This novel does an excellent job describing the way America is today, a mix of very diverse cultures. This story was very relatable for me as my parents are immigrants who came from a country with a very different culture. It is sometimes difficult to feel comfortable in a world that is new to someone, and O’neill does a good job of portraying that.




    At the beginning of the novel the Hans, A newcomer to New York City, is recently left by his wife and child. Naturally he is lonely and feels out of place. This is where I could relate to him as a minority in the United States. Later he is introduced to the world of cricket in New York, which is filled with immigrants from around the world. Before this he believes the “American Dream” had become just that, a dream, but here he learns that it is alive and well. All of his friends he makes have had to endure hard work to get to their goal in life. After a new look on life he finally goes back to London to be a better father and husband to child and wife. He plans a trip to India to develop a closer bond and presumably to enculturate his child who should learn about different cultures.

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  • Posted March 23, 2012

    Read this while on vacation. Light and easy read. I enjoyed the

    Read this while on vacation. Light and easy read. I enjoyed the intertwining of two very different, yet relevant stories; NYC post 9/11 and a marriage falling apart. Honest, eye-of-the-storm account of both 'tornadoes' happening in this his life.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Gatsby Redivivus?

    When Chuck Ramkissoon, the Trinidadian small-time gangster and big-time cricket dreamer, takes Hans van den Broek, the "Flying Dutchman" seeking a home port that may not exist, to Green-Wood Cemetery to see the grave of Henry Chadwick, Hans comments, "My attention was given over to the small square stone in the grass -- a maverick slab of crazy paving, one might have thought -- on which Chuck had carelessly placed a foot. It was a gravestone. A word was engraved on it: DAISY." Just in case the reader of the last 200 pages hadn't cottoned to the author's intention of recreating The Great Gatsby, here lay the final clue. Was O'Neill successful in rewriting the Great American Novel in a post-9/11 form? No, but in his attempt, he has produced a work that is interesting in its own right. His handling of the transformative experience of 9/11 is both deft and subtle. His Chuck Ramkissoon is in some ways more "alive" than Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby. The nostalgia experienced by Hans which pervades the novel is quite different in kind from that of Fitzgerald's Nick Carraway. In terms of atmosphere, I was reminded more of novels by Bernhard Schlink, Harry Mulisch, and W. G. Sebald. Some of O'Neill's language and imagery is beautiful and poignant, and the novel is well wrought. The descriptions of preparing the cricket field and those of Hans using Google Earth were well done and evocative. I must admit to a desire to take a cricket bat to Hans on more than one occasion when his self-questioning ennui became a bit too much to bear. The novel does have valuable lessons and deserves a second reading. I liked O'Neill's use of the quotation from Book II of the Georgics, seemingly as a throwaway line, ["O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint, agricolas.":] which is, of course, a major AUTHOR'S MESSAGE, inviting the reader to join Vergil "ignarosque viae mecum miseratus agrestis".

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    Cricket confusion

    Beautifully written, but plodding, with sentences that run forever. Most of the time I did not know where the author was going with his thoughts. However, complex characters made me want to know more. And I cared about them. I'd like to know more about the game of cricket!

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A definite educational read

    Unfortunately, I'm only a third of the way through and still watching for the Gatsby angle. However, I am enjoying the knowledge of cricket I'm gaining and especially the reminder of 9/11. Actually, I'm learning a lot more about the scenery and events surrounding the aftermath of this horrific event in our moral growth. Not being a New Yorker this book has shared the tragic emotions many closer to the event suffer. I never really thought that much about the scars many Americans have now. I superficially know that many people continue to suffer and live wtih the effects of that day, that bombing on our continient, but this is giving me a deeper awareness of the dramatic elements many are still dealing with and probably will be for a long time to come. It has made me remember.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2009

    Well written book.

    The story had a very real, human feeling. O'Neill developed the main character with very believable characteristics. It was a fun coincidence that we were in England during the cricket championship in July.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    Post 911 NY experience

    One marriage upended by the fallout from 911.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Couldn't get past the first 20 pages

    Everyone loves loves loves this book. It is on just about every recommendation list in the world. I never NOT finish books but I didn't get very far here. I just didn't like the characters at all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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