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4.3 out of 5 stars
221
4.3 out of 5 stars
The Siege
Format: Kindle Edition|Change
Price:£4.99


on 29 March 2011
This is a brilliant book, well researched, and a powerful picture of a tragic period in Russian history.One feels the cold, this is a book steeped in real atmosphere. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in history of our time.
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on 2 July 2001
The Siege is by far the best novel Helen Dunmore has written, and establishes her as an important writer. It uses her skill at describing women's domestic and emotional lives but widens it in placing her characters in the 1941 Siege of Leningrad. Anna,an aspiring artist has to look after her father (a writer who can't get published because his work isn't upbeat enough for the Party) and little brother. When we first see her she's digging up onions at the family dacha, and those she can't dig up she destroys - a foretaste of the scroched earth policy that made the Russians impossible to defeat. Pretty soon, as winters and the Nazis close in, all the pets are eaten and there are rumours of cannibalism. Anna's family survive, not just physically but morally although at a terrible price. One of the things that keeps them going is the memory of Russian literature, even when they have to burn their books to keep warm. Although Anna's father and her lover are insubstantial characters, the depiction of the women more than compensates. This is a marvellous, gripping novel about suffering and love, which fuses the world of women's fiction with that of Tolstoy.
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on 28 November 2011
Set during The siege of Leningrad which started towards the end of 1941, the book follows a small family which includes a child as they endure the worst of a Russian winter with no electricity or running water while living on their meagre rations of 250 grams of bread for a worker and 125 grams for a non-worker.

The siege of Leningrad lasted around 2 ½ years and saw the deaths of more than one million civilians from starvation. Very few supplies were able to get into the city and as well as this the civilians also had to put up with being shelled on a daily basis.

There are a couple of love stories within the book but once the worst of the Siege takes hold the only thing on anyone's mind is food and survival. These thoughts occupy the minds of the characters throughout much of the book, there are no thoughts for the future or who they think is winning this battle, the conversations and commentary is focused on the hunger, cold and rumours of where firewood can be found.

Parts of the book contains commentary from Pavlov; the nutritionist who tries over and over to make the figures work and ultimately decides the amount of rations each person can have. Aside from this though we get to see little of the bigger picture. We know the Germans are there because we read about the effects of their shelling but Dunmore does not show the reader the effect on the Germans at the front line. This is not a criticism, I think Dunmore was wise to do this. By focusing on the civilians she is able to allow the reader to really get to know the main characters and to get the reader to care whether they live or survive.

This is not a light subject but the pace of the book and the matter-of-fact way in which this is written makes this quite a fast read which I couldn't put down.
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on 22 June 2001
A harrowing, beautifully written account of the siege of Leningrad. The book is well reasearched and very interesting, but it is minutiae of life -literally staying alive - which Helen Dunmore describes so well. The book concentrates mainly on one family and how they cope during this ordeal - it shows the ingenuity of people pushed to the limit of endurance. It is a moving and humane book which has kindled my interest in this period of Russian history.
I have long been a fan of Helen Dunmore's work - but in my opinion this novel is the best thing she has written - a brilliant return to the form of "Burning Bright" and "A spell of Winter".
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on 4 February 2016
Good descriptive narrative about the horrific conditions endured by Leningraders during the Second World War but I didn't find the characters particularly life like.
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on 13 April 2005
What a beautifully written book this is. It was a treat from start to finish. Although the subject matter is necessarily bleak, the triumph over adversity scenario has never been so terrifyingly real.
Anna, a young woman, her 5 year old brother and her father are trying to survive the Seige of Leningrad in temperatures most of us cannot even imagine, and are unlikely to experience. The Germans are trying to starve the city to death and are succeeding. There is no food. Every step and every expenditure of energy has to be carefully thought out. Every nerve and every fibre of Anna's being are programmed to survive against all odds. Her will to live and keep her brother alive is so strong. The writing makes you feel as if you are there in the apartment with them, so much so that I wept when they found a jar of jam that had been hidden!
This book makes you think about human nature to survive against all odds. A very emotional read, which gave me an insight to a part of WW2 that I hadn't read much about.
Brilliant.
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on 24 April 2016
story lines were a bit shallow. Would have liked more depth to each story.
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on 21 February 2014
This is a challenging novel which describes very eloquently a famous episode in the 2nd world war. The novel brings home the horror visited on the citizens of Leningrad, when it is besieged by the invading by German army, by focussing on the daily life of a family trying to survive it. As their life is so grim, this is often a difficult read. The reader is encouraged to continue by the excellence of the writing containing some wonderful evocative descriptions of what the characters see. The big picture and the historical context are only referenced through asides and their impact on the characters' lives. The author demonstrates amazing imagination in painting such a detailed and convincing word picture of a situation she cannot have actually experienced. I would strongly recommend this book but only to people who are happy to imagine very distressing events that they are most unlikely to have to experience in real life. I intend to read more of Helen Dunmore's books.
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on 22 June 2001
This is a beautifully written and moving account of the siege of Leningrad. This painful episode in Russian history is not something I had really been interested in before, however, since reading this book, I feel compelled to find out more. Helen Dunmore really makes you care about the characters and whether they will survive this ordeal. It is a gripping, disturbing, well researched yet lyrical account of human suffering. I read it in 2 days - utterly absorbing work.
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on 15 February 2003
I bought the "The Siege" by Helen Dunmore due to the fact that I like reading book set during World War 2, but I have to say that "The Siege" was one of the worst books that I ever read. While reading the book, I began to get the impression that Ms. Dunmore had never been to Leingrad (now St. Petersburg). As a reader I didn't feel like I was able to connect with the characters. I think that this is important if the reader is going to enjoy a book.
If you want to read a book set during the siege of Leningrad read "The Bronze Horseman", it is much better.
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