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Purge [Hardcover]

Oksanen Sofi , Lola Rogers
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 2009
Old Aliide Truu lives alone in a cottage in the woods, pestered by flies she wishes would leave her in peace. Her isolation is interrupted when she spies a young woman under a tree in her garden. The girl is strange; arriving in the dead of night, bruised, dirty and shoeless - why is she at Aliide's door? Overcome by curiosity the old woman decides, warily, to take her in. Zara is on the run from men who tortured, raped, and sold her into slavery. Her only possession is a tattered photograph of her grandmother and another woman; in which Aliide recognizes herself and her sister. Horrified, she begins to realize that the past she has long tried to forget has finally caught up with her - Purge is a hauntingly intimate portrait of one family's shame against a backdrop of European war. It is a fiercely compelling novel about what we will accept just to survive and the legacies created by our worst experiences.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119414
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,260,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A phenomenon. --Sunday Times

Powerful, passionately wrought, emotionally shattering, extraordinary. --Independent

Finland's hottest crime writer will soon be as well-known as Stieg Larsson --The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sofi Oksanen was born in Finland and a former graduate of the Finnish Theatre Academy. She is the author of three novels. Purge is her first novel to be published in English translation. She lives in Helsinki. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting story skilfully written 10 Sep 2010
By Roland Davis TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I will begin with a warning: don't read the back cover and be careful when you read reviews of this book as they give away a lot. One of the things I like about the book is the way the story, and the issues it is about, unfold bit by bit in an interesting, intriguing way. If I had read the reviews by Claire1806 or Leigh Laitila or the back cover, the experience would have been spoiled.

Of course it's hard to write a review without giving anything away. Let's just say it's about the political history of Estonia and its relationship with Russia, and some social/sexual issues. Put like that it may not sound inspiring but I assure you it is. Even if you have no interest in politics and history, the things that happen in this book feel real and moving, and are presented in a personal way without a trace of preaching or theorising.

I don't like to disagree with other reviewers but some of the comments made are so wrong I have to challenge them. Someone says the book is "about a nasty woman's obsession". This is like saying Jane Austen's novels are about pretty women. No, Purge is about Aliide's life, how she was affected by the things that happened to her and around her, and how she dealt with it. She comes across as a very real believable person. The book made me interested in her. I wanted all the time to find out more.

That review also said the book was confusing, the fate of one of the characters wasn't clear, and that it was depressing. I think the reviewer must have had a bad day. The book is not hard to understand and it is presented in such a balanced way that despite the many dark events, I wasn't at all depressed.

Every chapter begins by stating the year in which it takes place and the book skips backwards or forwards dozens of times.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad I read it but not sure if I enjoyed it 9 Oct 2011
By Sab
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm glad I read Purge, not sure if I enjoyed it, but will definitley go back and read it again in a couple of months.

In common with many of the reviewers I found this book alternatley gripping, frustrating, tense, boring and most stages inbetween. All the emotions of obsessive love, rivalry, jelousey, betrayal, corrpution, fear and what people will do to survive are played out against the backdrop of Estonia in the build up to the Second World war, thru the occupations of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, onto the Cold War years and finally into the post Gorbachev era. There are parts that have a '1984' feel to them.

The timeline does jump around so you must keep track of what year the characters are in.

Some quite ordinary scenes feel very drawn out while other very dramatic events are handled with just a couple of bald sentances - I had to go back and re-read them a few times to make sure I that what I thought just happened really had happened. And yes, there are a couple of quite nasty stomach churning scenes but they aren't gratuitous and they do add a lot of emotional punch.

For me, the final coda was very effective even it did jar slightly with the way the rest of the book had been written.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tense story of panic, passion and politics 16 July 2011
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author is a Finn born of an Estonian mother who had emigrated in the 1970s to Finland from the Soviet Union. This novel, set in Estonia, opens in 1992 soon after the country has regained its independence. An apparently paranoid old woman, Aliide, sees Zara, a traumatized, terrified, dishevelled and almost inarticulate young woman outside her house. Aliide overcomes her paranoia and reluctantly lets Zara into the house. The atmosphere is edgy. It takes some time before we discover the horrific cause of Zara's panic (much longer still before we learn more gruesome details of her experiences and of her flight), and also why Aliide had been so suspicious; and we understand why each of them conceals the truth from the other. Zara does not let on for a while that it was not an accident that had brought her to Aliide's house.

When she does, it makes Aliide recall her life during the turbulent history of Estonia - independent after the First World War, then successively under Soviet, German, and then again Soviet occupation. During this last period, those suspected of Estonian nationalism were subjected to horrific violence perpetrated by interrogators and to deportation to Siberia. Aliide had been a suspect, but had sought safety by marrying a communist organiser. Then, driven by a life-long resentment, she had committed a terrible triple act of betrayal.

The betrayal had not brought her the rewards she had expected, and her life was a torment. Now that Estonia was independent, her past counted against her; and what Zara now told her brought her yet further painful memories. The full truth, however, will be revealed to her under chilling circumstances - and not by Zara. Part IV of the book ends with how Aliide now reacts, and brings the narrative to a conclusion.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Read 29 Sep 2010
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
`Purge' is going to be rather a hard book to write about in part because of how big the story is (not in terms of pages just in terms of story and subject matter) or because some of the book is harrowing to say the least but also because to give too much away with this story, I think, would lessen the impact it could have on a reader coming to it and to do that to a book/reading experience such as this would be a disservice. Anyway let's see how we get on.

Aliide Truu lives a slightly solitary life near woods in the Estonian countryside. One morning after waging a war with a fly, which initially you think are the only bane in her life - you'd be thinking wrong, she spots something in her garden. That something turns out to be young woman, one who is wearing expensive clothes and yet is covered in dirt and bruised, a young woman who has appeared under her tree in the dead of night, a girl Aliide knows she shouldn't take in because you can almost feel the danger coming from her, and yet Aliide does.

Slowly but surely as Aliide spends the following day or so with the girl, Zara, both Zara's recent horrific past (the fact this setting is the early nineties was quite shocking for me) starts to unfold as does Aliide's which is a past with her sister over fifty years ago which she has wiped from her brain and buried deep elsewhere. As we read on two stories unfold that look at the history of Estonia and its women, the trials they have had to face and how they endured and survived. I shall say no more on the plot other than I think this is a tale that needs to be told and therefore to be read and heard by us no matter how difficult it can get in parts.
Sofia Oksanen has written something quite amazing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Estonian linen-washing
It's good that Estonian gets things off their chests, as they had to take a lot of punishment from the Russians. The theme is slightly depressing in the end.
Published 1 month ago by Stephen Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story
An interesting plot, with satisfyingly worked characters, some unexpected turns and an appropriately gloomy atmosphere. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ged Dixon
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a great book about a period of recent European history
The Finnish-Estonian writer Sofi Oksanen had her first play ‘Puhdistus’ performed at the Finnish National Theatre in 2007 and, a year later, she adapted it into her third novel. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dr R
4.0 out of 5 stars Purge
Slow to get going but a gripping read. A tale spanning sixty years of iron fist rule during the cold war.
Published 5 months ago by wendy doyle
3.0 out of 5 stars Different
This is a story of two women with a criminal past but also vulnerability, against the backdrop of Estonia during and after the second world war and in present day 1990's. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J Bannion
3.0 out of 5 stars ok but does not fulfil promise
This is quite an interesting book that starts slowly but then builds to what feels gripping and then it just ends. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mercedes Aspland
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener
Tales of human trafficking from the former Eastern Bloc have been brought to us by several high-profile crime writers in recent years, but this one has some very different twists... Read more
Published 7 months ago by sccm
3.0 out of 5 stars Promised a good read
A bit of a potted history of Estonia with interesting characters and a macabre story line. Dis the end justify the means though.
Published 8 months ago by Win Aldous
4.0 out of 5 stars MOVING
A very moving account of the affects of war, conflict and political regimes on an individual family. Read more
Published 8 months ago by christine davidson
3.0 out of 5 stars PURGE REVIEW
Didn't like the way it jumped about between dates; slightly confusing to read until one got the hang of it. Read more
Published 8 months ago by anne lindsay
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