The Siege- Helen Dunmore

This book was read as my book recommended by another blogger for the Take A Chance Challenge

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Leningrad, September 1941. German tanks surround the city, imprisoning those who live there. The besieged people of Leningrad face shells, starvation, and the Russian winter. Interweaving two love affairs in two generations, THE SIEGE draws us deep into the Levin’s family struggle to stay alive during this terrible winter. It is a story about war and the wounds it inflicts on people’s lives. It is also a lyrical and deeply moving celebration of love, life and survival.


It’s been quite a long time since I last read a story based around the second world war, seeing as it’s the nearest I get to reading a particular genre it is something I read fairly frequently. I don’t think I’ve read anything set in Russia during this time before (or at least not wholly based in Russia) so I was glad to expand my horizons a little. I must admit just recently I’ve not had much luck with these types of books, often finding myself disappointed, and I was hoping The Siege would be different. However I can’t say I really felt that engaged most of the time. Undoubtedly the writing is good- there is a certain poetry to it, but it does not really feel as though you get under the character’s skin. A lot of the time I found the writing kind of detached. The descriptions of what was going on were very good, I could see what was happening in my mind quite clearly, and at times that made it difficult to read. However I never really got a sense of how the characters felt about what was going on- even when there was a sense of feeling it was described in such a detached way that it felt as much like fact as like feeling. If it was purposeful then I suppose it showed the detachment the characters may crave very clearly but for me it felt like that characters were pretty one dementional. As far as being a war novel it didn’t really feel like a war novel, there was some speak of the enemy but it felt almost as if it could be set anywhere in Soviet Russia during food shortages.

I found the end was very rushed, almost as if Dunmore wasn’t sure how to get to the end so decided just to skip a great chunk of time. Similarly I found that anticipated events, while could have really added emotion were skipped over only to be mentioned later so you know they had happened. I found when it ended a little confusing to, but maybe if I had some prior knowledge of the events of the Leningrad siege I would have known what happened next anyway.

The ending however was kind of poignant and probably the best section emotionally, it sort of made me want to visit St. Petersberg



Filed under Fiction review, Historical

4 responses to “The Siege- Helen Dunmore

  1. Pingback: The Take a Chance Challenge 2011 | Lucybird's Book Blog

  2. It is amazing how two people can read a book in such different way. I loved The Siege and felt totally under their skin. At least we can agree that it made us both want to visit St Petersburg 🙂


  3. lucybirdbooks

    ah well different strokes and all that!


  4. Pingback: Review of the Year 2011- Challenges | Lucybird's Book Blog

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