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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read but frustrating ending, 18 April 2011
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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Feb 2016 18:35:10 GMT
I know what you mean. We don't get to see the reunion, we have just a dry narration of what happened after Stalin's death. Maybe Dunmore ran out of steam, or maybe she thought a reunion chapter would be too sentimental? It's a bit anticlimactic.
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

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