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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising story
The novel opens with an emotional dilemma that gripped me heart and soul. Should Andrei treat an ill child even though he is putting the life of himself and his family at risk? After reading Dunmore's The Siege, it was good to be reunited with Anna and Andrei and see how their lives had turned out (though this book stands alone and you could go straight to it or read The...
Published on 7 May 2010 by Stevie Kemp

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Depressing but good
Don't read this if you're feeling down, you'll sink further, but as an insight into what Stalin's Russia must have been like it is very good.
Published 4 months ago by Jan Harrison


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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising story, 7 May 2010
This review is from: The Betrayal (Hardcover)
The novel opens with an emotional dilemma that gripped me heart and soul. Should Andrei treat an ill child even though he is putting the life of himself and his family at risk? After reading Dunmore's The Siege, it was good to be reunited with Anna and Andrei and see how their lives had turned out (though this book stands alone and you could go straight to it or read The Siege first). They are tender, likeable, brave characters, whose humanity puts them in danger. But this novel is not judgmental of the other characters who live under the restrictions of Stalin's Russia in 1952. We experience the tensions of such lives, the need for survival, the compromises and the unexpected moments of courage. The novel's atmospheric evocation of Russia, the powerful characterisation, and the tense dialogue all make this a good read. In the end,this is a love story that keeps you reading. I opened the book and couldn't stop - I had to know what happened to Anna,Andrei and Kolya. Sparely but poetically written - I feel as though I've seen Anna's green dress and walked in the cold streets with Volkov. I highly recommend this book. Afterwards, it kept going round in my head. A fantastic, emotional and life enhancing read.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sober depiction of life under Stalin, 24 May 2010
By 
Pen pal "Topaz" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Betrayal (Hardcover)
Having read 'The Siege' and found it absolutely wonderful, I was very interested to read this follow up. As has been pointed out both books stand alone, but they are both worth reading. Andrei and Anna and Kolya, Anna's brother all live together in their apartment, the same apartment they went through the Siege of Leningrad in, and are now having to endure the horror of Stalin's Russia where every neighbour has been turned into a spy and the slightest wrong gesture or slip of the tongue can result in imprisonment and far worse. Andrei is a doctor and although he should never have been called upon for this particular case, ends up taking care of a very sick boy of a fearsome official. This case has been palmed off on to him by another doctor who should have taken it on but is too terrified of the consequence if anything should go amiss with the treatment. The story is based around the real persecution of doctors during the reign of Stalin -the Doctors' Plot - where they were falsely accused of being enemies of the state. So through Andrei, we are witness to the absolute horror of living life under Stalin. If one is to really think what it must have been like to live life in perpetual fear of neighbours, work colleagues, to have no real freedom of speech, it is awful. If you are interested in this book then I am sure that you would be interested in 'Wild Swans', a true story in the era of Mao.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book fans of The Siege have been waiting for., 5 May 2010
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Betrayal (Hardcover)
I actually missed The Siege when it was first published but I did buy a copy as soon as I had finished The Betrayal. For me The Betrayal is an even better novel and fans of The Siege will not be disappointed.

It continues the story of Anna and Andre and their struggle to survive in post-war Soviet Russia. They may no-longer have to boil leather for 'soup' but getting food still mean queuing, perhaps for hours, hoping that the supply will not run out before they reach the head of the queue. The people of Leningrad may no-longer have to worry about the enemy without, but the enemy within is real, nothing has really changed. From the moment that Andre is asked to look at a sick child, the son of Volkov a senior secret-police officer, I had a sense of foreboding. The suspense builds with every page as the main characters, a doctor and nursery teacher, are caught up in a situation from which there is no escape under the Stalinist regime. It made me try to imagine what it would be like to live in a society where you lived in fear of being denounced by 'friends' or neighbours, where 'trust no-one' was a creed you lived by. Then again, can we really condemn the betrayers? Their lives, the lives of their families were also threatened and perhaps they just did what they had to to survive.

This is fiction and yet it reads like fact, I believed in the characters, believed that this situation occured. Dunmore takes the reader on a journey into the heart of Soviet Russia, this novel entertains and educates, what more can you ask?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My book of the year, 27 Dec 2010
By 
F. M. M. Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Betrayal (Hardcover)
I absolutely loved this book. Gripping, thoughtful, beautifully researched and written, human....well, you get the idea. It is the story of Andre, a young hospital doctor, his wife Anna, and her young (orphaned) brother, trying to survive in post-war Stalinist Russia. Andre is persuaded - against his better judgement - to treat the young son of an important government official, and from the start, the reader knows that this can only lead to trouble. As the child's condition deteriorates - through no-one's fault; his fate is inevitable - the net slowly begins to close around Andre and his family, and the tension builds up gradually and inevitably as the novel moves towards its climax. This novel has everything. Wonderful writing, great story-telling, warm and believable characters. It would seem that others agree, since the hardback appears to be sold out, and the paperback doesn't appear until February. But it is a wonderful book, and a treat for Dunmore's many fans.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Betrayal Helen Dunmore, 24 Jun 2011
By 
Mrs. H. N. Robinson "hilvary" (Lymington, Hants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Betrayal (Paperback)
Helen Dunmore's best book, in my opinion. The story of
Anna, Kolya & Andre continues nine years after 'The Seige'.
I almost did not want to read on as I did not want anything
untoward to happen to this lovely family, but the title
had said it and I knew something awful would happen.
I had to read on - the suspense was killing!
I have met the author too, and the depth of her knowledge
and understanding of all things Russian is astounding.
A 'must read' book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read but frustrating ending, 18 April 2011
By 
K. Worsdell "Enthusiastic reader" (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Betrayal (Paperback)
I've been eagerly looking forward to reading The Betrayal on my holidays, having enjoyed several Helen Dunmore novels in the past, particularly The Siege. Considering, I also have a major fascination for Russia and the reality of life behind the iron curtain, I was really intrigued and excited to read this book. Pleasingly, it had me hooked from the outset.
I especially loved the development of the moral dilemma at the core of The Betrayal and how Dunmore used actions to illustrate the integrity of the main characters without being heavy handed. She easily had me batting for Anna and Andrei's future and even feeling some sympathy for Volkov and some of the other "baddies" in the text. It takes skillful writing to avoid painting secret police and informers as purely evil beings and instead imbue the reader with some sense of the self preservation driving their actions. Overall, one of the strengths of the novel was the way the author built the tension and a sense of icy menace and fear as the net closed around Andrei, the doctor who risks everything to care for his patient. It made me feel like I was part of the novel myself, fighting for my very life, career and freedom.
I also felt there were several key passages that seemed to mirror current events and resonate with my own life and experiences, despite how vastly removed they are from the reality of the Stalinist Soviet era.
My big gripe is that I found the climax to the story enormously frustrating. It wasn't a satisfactory resolution to the challenges and traumas of the central characters and left me really unsatisfied as a reader. The author clearly wanted to avoid an overly sentimental, "Hollywood" style ending but some form of plot and emotional resolution for these beloved characters would have have made this a much more satisfying read. Do other people also have problems with the ending?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Survival in a Kafkaesque World, 11 Feb 2011
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Betrayal (Paperback)
A gripping tension builds up in the early chapters as a panicstricken doctor manages to foist onto Andrei the dubious honour of trying to heal the perhaps terminally ill son of Volkov, a high-ranking Soviet official in the dreaded Ministry of State Security.

The book is convincing in capturing what it must have felt like to live through the final months of Stalin's Reign of Terror. Ordinary, decent people learned to keep their heads down and their mouths shut, anything to avoid attracting notice, even to the extent of suffering the harassment of malicious neighbours in overcrowded apartment blocks.

Helen Dunmore is skilful at portraying the minute details of people's relationships, their shifting thoughts and emotions. There is even subtle evidence of sympathy between Andrei and Volkov. She makes us care about Anna, the nursery school teacher whose life has been so restricted through the crime of having a free-thinking writer for a father, her artistic teen-age brother Kolya who is like a son to her, and her principled, sensitive husband Andrei. The fear of the "knock on the door at night", the helpless anger over the mindless destruction of one's possessions by the police, the shock of realisation that so-called friends and colleagues are too frightened to help, all come across vividly.

What could be a grim story is lightened by Dunmore's poetical prose - the descriptions of the landscape, and the wry observations on human nature, as some people spout slogans to wangle their way to the top. I always felt optimistic for Anna and Andrei because they are survivors of the terrible siege of Leningrad - I realised too late that "The Betrayal" is a sequel to "The Siege", but it can stand on its own.

The final chapters do not build up to a strong climax, and the narrative loses momentum, becoming almost dull in places, with some potentially dramatic events reported rather than acted out. This approach may well be "true to life". It may also reflect the author's liking for short stories which do not require the development and maintenance of a plot over many pages.

I admire the quality of the writing (although sometimes the children's author voice slips through a bit patronisingly), the plot idea is excellent. It is only the handling of the denouement that could have been defter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight to Stalinism cruelty, 16 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Betrayal (Paperback)
You could almost believe that this book was a history text book, the amount of research into the development of this tory which as it is written by a poet is amazing. The book is a page turner, and certainly led me to look more closely at the history of the period. I think if more history text books were written like this there would be a lot more children undertaking history examinations. An amazing book
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and Wonderful, 9 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Betrayal (Paperback)
I just want to add my voice to the chorus here! Another terrific review for this great book. I started reading it before I realised it was a sequel and was prepared to be disappointed but it stands on its own - brilliantly. Beautifully written - and shocking to think this was all happening so recently. Highly recommended. A great read! Now I am going to read The Seige
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dunmore does not disappoint, 22 May 2010
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This review is from: The Betrayal (Hardcover)
I didn't realise The Betrayal was a sequel to The Seige (Dunmore's first novel set in Stalinist Russia) until about halfway through - shame on me! But as other reviewers have said, both books can be read alone and stand tall by themselves. The Betrayal is the story of a young couple struggling to survive following the seige of Stalingrad in the 1940s. Andrei, a doctor, is faced with an impossible situation when he has to treat the son of a terrifying Stalinist VIP. Even though you can guess how things progress, you won't skim over a sentence - as I read to the slow, inevitable climax I felt my stomach turning inside out. Dunmore's prose is sometimes lush, sometimes sparse, and she achieves the balance perfectly so reading her is a sheer joy even when you wince at what she's writing about. After the rather disappointing Counting the Stars, The Betrayal shows her back to the very peak of her talents.
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The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore (Paperback - 3 Feb 2011)
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