Netherland

Netherland

by Joseph O'Neill
3.4 60

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Netherland 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Caledaravel More than 1 year ago
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.
MaureenML More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. :)
PotterNYC More than 1 year ago
"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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
kitts More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Reader399 More than 1 year ago
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.
adunlea More than 1 year ago
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.
E-Bennet More than 1 year ago
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.
Sahil More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Netherland is the third novel by Irish-born author, Joseph O’Neill. Set mainly in post 9/11 New York, it is narrated by Hans van den Broek, a Dutch-born equities analyst living the Chelsea Hotel and working in for a large bank. When his English wife, Rachel takes his young son, Jake, and returns to England, Hans fills his empty weekends with the unlikely (in America) pastime of cricket. He makes the acquaintance of the charismatic Chuck Ramkissoon, a Jamaican of Pakistani extraction who has a finger in many pies, including Kosher sushi, real estate, the establishment of an International Cricket Arena, running a betting business and perhaps something darker, all the while with a wife and a mistress. There are lots of interesting and occasionally surprising tidbits in this novel: cricket in New York; cricket in Holland; preparation of cricket pitches; and New York’s non-white immigrant population. The concept of cricket as a civiliser is novel and the comment on America’s seeing (or lack thereof) of the world is perceptive. There is quite a lot of description of New York which is likely to appeal to people who have lived there. But I found the main character frustrating, emotionally deficient and therefore difficult to really like or care about. Even the departure of his wife and son seems insufficient impetus to stir him from his depressive mood and make him feel strongly enough to insist on leaving with her: he settles for no more than visiting every second weekend. When he returns to England, Hans seems to get his wife back by default: “ ‘He’s fucking someone else,’ Rachel said. ‘Good,’ I said, ‘that means I can fuck you.’ ‘OK, she said.’” There is certainly some lovely descriptive prose and imagery: “My family, the spine of my days, had crumbled. I was lost in invertebrate time” and “Huge trees grew nearby, and their leaves intercepted the sunlight very precisely, so that the shadows of their leaves seemed vital and creaturely as they stirred on the ground – an inkling of some supernature, to a sensibility open to such things.” But does this novel live up to the descriptions on the cover: “Mesmerising”, “Dazzling” and “A Brilliant Book” (Barack Obama)? This was an OK read, but nothing earth-shattering.
PattyBoCo More than 1 year ago
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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Bagamehr More than 1 year ago
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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