Netherland – Joseph O’Neill

The BookDepository

I’m afraid that life is too short to persevere with boring books, and this one succumbed very quickly. By page two I was wondering why I was reading it (the answer is that Richard and Judy made me do it!) I managed to get through to page fifty with a bit of effort, and then skim read the next 100 pages, before giving up entirely.

I’m not a fan of watching sport, and cricket has to be one of the dullest there is. A book about trying to build a cricket stadium in New York is going to have a very tough job exciting me, and I’m afraid it didn’t. The book is also supposed to be a reflection on the post 9/11 life of New Yorkers, but the little I read didn’t engage me.

I’m afraid this book just wasn’t for me. It was as exciting as a five day cricket test match!


Send to Kindle


  1. Sandy says:

    You know what? Good for you for cutting your losses. A big flaw of mine is that I tend to trudge onward, no matter how awful the book, and waste my valuable reading time! You are right…life is too short! I may have picked this book up, just for the title. I like the word “Netherland”, as in Peter Pan, as in one of the greatest Dan Fogelberg albums. I will now avoid this one like the plague, as I am not a fan of cricket either!

  2. Sandy – When I was younger I never left a book without finishing it, but I have now realised that I am a good judge of whether I will like it. My reading pile is so big I do need a way of getting through it quickly!

    I love the title Netherland too! I think it is very misleading. I’m sure the title should have cricket or ball or stadium in there, so the reader has a bit of warning. I knew this book was about New York, but didn’t know anything about the cricket.

  3. Beth F says:

    I don’t waste my time either — too many good books out there. All you had to do is say the word “cricket” and I was done!! I’ll definitely stay away from this one.

  4. Molly says:

    I so appreciate the honest review! And you are absolutely right — life is simply too short; we must learn to prioritize our time and always include personal pleasure. Life has too many “must do” items on the list — personal reading should only include “want to” items.

  5. Wendy says:

    Oh bummer. I just ordered this book from Amazon because a book group I am in is planning to read it. I find that I usually agree with your book reviews…but this time I am hoping I don’t! *laughs* Stay tuned for my review in the next two months!!

  6. Tamara says:

    Thanks for this review – I was looking at this at the airport bookshop, wondering if it would be interesting enough to distract my mind from other things. I dont think I will bother with it either now. it’s time to find books that engage us, relax us or inform us.

  7. Jackie says:

    Wendy – I’ve just joined the Booker group you’re in, but I already had it lined up for my R&J books. At least it’s a fairly quick read – I look forward to your review!

  8. Stewart says:

    Netherland was one of my favourite reads from last year and if the judges have any sense, should have advanced to the Booker shortlist. As someone who also doesn’t like cricket — I really detest it — I don’t see how its tangential nature in this novel could cause such a dislike. Fans of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby should like the book, as it’s a contemporary take on this. The prose is really wonderful, as I recall, and while I can understand why it wouldn’t be for everyone, I don’t really understand why it wasn’t for you, as you don’t really say (i.e. why was it boring? Because it had cricket in it?)

    I love the title Netherland too! I think it is very misleading.

    I think it’s anything but misleading. Why do you think so? While the obvious Netherland is to do with the Netherlands from where the narrator hails, the real netherland is the society tucked in behind the day to day facade of America that the novel explores.

    1. Jackie says:

      The title Netherland brings up images of fairy tales and adventures at the edge of the earth to me.

      I found Netherland very slow. I didn’t engage with any of the characters and the book seemed to have no plot or momentum carrying it forward. I’ve not read The Great Gatsby, so can’t compare it to that, but I need more than beautiful writing to enjoy a book. I need to feel the emotion of the characters, I need to understand where they are coming from and have a reason for wanting to read the rest of the book. I’d compare this book to Home by Marilynne Robinson – great writing, but it didn’t entertain me.


  1. Saturday Review of Books: March 7, 2009 at Semicolon
  2. Richard and Judy 2009 Book Club - Complete! – Farm Lane Books Blog
  3. Temple-goers – Aatish Taseer – Farm Lane Books Blog

Leave a Reply