Customer Reviews


23 Reviews
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing
This tender, moving, profound book really gets into the minds of young people growing up in the First World War, and the magic and sorrow of first love. It is very atmospheric and profound. The insular feel of a small remote Cornish village at that time, with its inevitable suspicion and mistrust of the unfamiliar and foreign, is very well captured. I have read it three...
Published on 14 Feb. 2009 by Woodpecker

versus
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Landscape of change
Deft depiction of an insular, remote community as seen through the eyes of characters who are questioning their roles in an ultimately permanently changed landscape. The backdrop of WWI only heightens the paranoia and xenophobia in Zennor. The main characters also serve as a poignant illustration of all that is lost to the Great War: their vibrancy and closeness to this...
Published on 22 Feb. 2010 by Anne Bradshaw


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, 14 Feb. 2009
By 
Woodpecker "Lam" (Somerset, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
This tender, moving, profound book really gets into the minds of young people growing up in the First World War, and the magic and sorrow of first love. It is very atmospheric and profound. The insular feel of a small remote Cornish village at that time, with its inevitable suspicion and mistrust of the unfamiliar and foreign, is very well captured. I have read it three times and got more from it each time. A truly beautiful and atmospheric book with great depth.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Debut, 6 Sept. 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
Helen Dunmore tends to alternate between contemporary and historical fiction. This, her first novel, is in the historical genre, mixing real events and people (the writer D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda, and their short stay at Zennor during World War I) with a completely fictional story, of Clare Coyne, daughter of a poor but aristocratic Catholic father and a working-class Cornish mother, and her love for her cousin John William, a working-class Cornish boy who longs to become a doctor, but becomes badly shell-shocked after terrible experiences at the Front. John William returns to his home at St Ives for a brief period of leave, and it is then that Clare realizes how strong her feelings are for him. But in wartime, no lovers are entirely safe...

This is a remarkably impressive first novel. Dunmore fits the Lawrences into her story very well, and brings them both vividly to life, with none of the awkwardness one often gets when writing about 'real' characters in novels (though Lawrence and Frieda both come across as slightly nicer than I think they may have been in real life; at least if Katherine Mansfield's account of their time in Cornwall is anything to go by). Clare Coyne is a most appealing heroine and Dunmore depicts her situation, caught between the cosy but sometimes prosaic life of her maternal relatives, and the academic abstractions of her father's life, very well. Her rapidly developing love for her cousin is also extremely convincing. The descriptions of Cornwall are beautiful (and, having been several times to that part of the world, I can safely say they are accurate). While there are the occasional lapses from the very high quality of much of this writing (I never quite believed in the scandal the villagers were trying to create about Clare and D.H. Lawrence, for example, and could have done with a little more information on how Clare's father Francis and Clare's mother got together) this is in many ways a deeply satisfying book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth persevering, 10 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
I found this book a little slow to start, ended up loving it and read it about 3 times.

The story has various threads, different writing styles and it all ends up being very poignant and interesting.

A great book and l would definitely recommend it
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zennor in Darkness, 12 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
This is another masterly work by Helen Dunmore (The Siege etc) Set in WWI it brings the writer DH Lawrence into the narrative. It is a rites of passage of three girls in the village/town of the title.It brings in first love,loss,ambition and small town suspicion and bigotry. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Light shed, 22 April 2014
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
Having read Helen Dunmore's spare and brilliant novel "Lies" focused on a shell-shocked young Cornishman in the aftermath of World War 1, I was interested in comparing it with her début novel published twenty years earlier, "Zennor in Darkness". Set in 1917, this describes how the tentacles of war have reached into rural Cornwall, with teenage boys conscripted from remote farmhouses, and cottage windows darkened with blackout curtains to deflect the German U-boats venturing near the coast to prey on British supply ships.

Since the author is also a poet, it is perhaps not surprising that "Zennor in Darkness" has a touch of Under Milk Wood with its array of local characters. The two who emerge most sharply in the foreground are at least to some extent outsiders: young would-be artist Clare Coyne, whose genteel Catholic father stayed on in Zennor after his wife's premature death, and the author D.H.Lawrence, who hoped in vain to find a refuge in Cornwall from the public outrage over his attacks on the war, and his marriage to Frieda, a German who had abandoned her husband and children to be with him.

The present tense which seems to have annoyed some reviewers did not trouble me at all. I hardly noticed it, and think that in fact it creates an increased sense of immediacy, and awareness of what each character is observing and feeling. However, the novel is clearly less taut and polished than "Lies". Several scenes, such as the opening chapter with three girls sunbathing on the beach is too rambling, with a confusion at times as to who is talking or who the identity of the main character - I thought at first it was Clare's cousin Hannah. There also seemed to be a bewildering excess of names to cope with at first. The writing sometimes seems over-intense.

This is a slow burning novel, a stream of impressions and thoughts. It conveys as far as I can tell a powerful and evocative sense of the Cornish landscape and the ambiance of a tightknit, closed community. Dunmore is also good at portraying relationships between people, their shifting emotions, misunderstandings and mutual criticism despite strong empathy, even love. Although in the main uneventful, requiring the reader to take time and savour the originality and beauty of Dunmore's prose, the novel shifts into a higher gear for the final third to reach a convincing conclusion.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Landscape of change, 22 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
Deft depiction of an insular, remote community as seen through the eyes of characters who are questioning their roles in an ultimately permanently changed landscape. The backdrop of WWI only heightens the paranoia and xenophobia in Zennor. The main characters also serve as a poignant illustration of all that is lost to the Great War: their vibrancy and closeness to this coastal, rustic way of life acts as a startling counterpoint to its implied horrors.
I found the inclusion of Lawrence and his wife added depth to this overall picture too, but it never dominated the novel. Clare carries the main focus throughout, and leaves us with a sense of the future, and hope, despite all the tragedy. And I particularly liked the depiction of Clare's father who seems to undergo the most moving awakening towards the end.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 4 Aug. 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
This was my first Helen Dunmore novel I love Zennor so the title attracted me. I'm so glad that it did I have not been disappointed in any Helen Dunmore book. I read it when it was first published but I loaned it to someone who failed to return it so I bought years later and read it again its beautiful.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faction?, 13 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This story was a real page turner. The way Helen Dunmore moved the story about in time was a fascinating device that kept me guessing. I was really engaged by the presentation of DH Lawrence and Freida. A thoroughly enjoyable read from this gifted and inventive writer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Is Helen Dunmore the new Thomas Hardy?, 23 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
From the blurb on the back I was expecting this novel to be about DH Lawrence's time living in Zennor in Cornwall during the first world war. Actually, this turns out to be a secondary theme. The main character is Clare Coyne, a local girl, although she does meet Lawrence on occasions. The novel follows Clare and her family over the course of about a year. It is set against the background of the war, though the effect of post traumatic stress on soldiers is not explored as extensively - or effectively - as in Dunmore's more recent novel 'The Lie'. If you haven't read that, I'd recommend it above this work. However, I still enjoyed this book, above all for its superb depiction of place. Dunmore's sensitivity to the landscape that makes up the Penwith peninsula is remarkable, and rivals Hardy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 25 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zennor in Darkness (Paperback)
Beautifully written book with wonderful descriptions. Surprising to find much of the story is true. Helen Dunmore has a lovely way with the English language
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Zennor in Darkness
Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore (Paperback - 25 Oct. 2007)
£8.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews