The Siege

Helen Dunmore

The Siege

The Siege

  • Title: The Siege
  • Author: Helen Dunmore
  • ISBN: 9780802117007
  • Page: 246
  • Format: Hardcover

Helen Dun s astoundingly beautiful new drama of two intertwined love stories unfolding during the 1941 siege on Leningrad has already been deemed a pinnacle in fiction, and in the year s fiction too The Telegraph and a world class novel The Times At once epic and intimate, The Siege is a modern masterpiece Sudden news of a German attack rips the Levin familyHelen Dun s astoundingly beautiful new drama of two intertwined love stories unfolding during the 1941 siege on Leningrad has already been deemed a pinnacle in fiction, and in the year s fiction too The Telegraph and a world class novel The Times At once epic and intimate, The Siege is a modern masterpiece Sudden news of a German attack rips the Levin family twenty two year old Anna her young brother, Kolya and their father, Mikhail from their countryside retreat, throwing their world into unimagined turmoil Soon all of Leningrad is trapped by the besieging German army, but daily life must go on While Kolya plays with his toy fort, his tiny body grows cruelly thin While Anna dreams of an artist s life, she forages for food in the ever desperate city Likewise, Dun s lush, lyrical appreciation of life s comforts a fire in the hearth, jam on the tongue dwells in The Siege even amid the darkest despair Before the siege is over, a mysterious ex actress Mikhail s onetime lover and a gentle young doctor come to the Levins frozen little apartment Not all of the five will survive, but their struggle and their tragedy will ultimately bear hope for a new beginning Helen Dun brilliantly shows us war as seen through the eyes of ordinary people while bravely extending her range The Siege is a profoundly moving celebration of love, life, and survival.

Recent Comments "The Siege"

The Fuehrer has decided to have Leningrad wiped from the face of the earth.Such a harrowing read as Dunmore gives us an insight into what it was like to live through the first winter of the siege of Leningrad. In another author's hands this might have been lush with romantic melodrama, but Dunmore keeps it clean and cold, allowing the details to speak for themselves: Kolya's childish whining as he cannot understand why he can't have another spoonful of precious hoarded jam; the quiet yet deep re [...]

Waiting for SpringHelen Dunmore's marvelous novel (surely her best*) begins with Spring in 1941:And then, just when it seemed as if summer would forget about Leningrad this year, everything changed. Ice broke loose from the compacted mass around the Strelka. Seagulls preened on the floes as the current swept them under bridges, and down the widening Neva to the sea.It will end with Spring a year later, but by that time a large part of the Leningrad population will have died of cold or malnutriti [...]

As I read this book on my couch after dinner, drinking a beer and enjoying the warm summer night, I found myself tensing against a monstrous cold that had become so physical that I couldn't unfeel it despite my knowledge that it was only words on paper.In The Siege, Dunmore weaves together the huge and small stories of the siege of Leningrad in a way that reminded me of The Grapes of Wrath and The Book Thief. It's very effective; the grand descriptions of the land and the cold create a mythical [...]

"The high-up ones start things, but it's us who have to finish them off."The bottom line of all wars!I have always liked reading novels reflecting the war and the wounds it inflicts on ordinary people's lives. This is a story celebrating love, life and survival through the second world war, World War II.First, as a rookie reader in history, let's start with some information to backup our historic background information.enpedia/wiki/World_WAnd know more about the siege of Leningrad (which is curr [...]

Story set immediately before and during the first year of the Siege of Leningrad - it focuses around 5 characters: a dissident writer Mikhail, his nursery-school teacher daughter Anna, his son Kolya (as his Doctor wife - the strong willed Vera - died in childbirth, Anna effectively is Kolya's mother) and Marina (a reclusive and discredited artist friend of Mikhail, who comes to live with them after the siege and who it becomes clear was a once lover of Mikhail) and Andrei (a Doctor who works on [...]

Excellent historical novel, which opens in 1941 Leningrad at the precipice of the German invasion, is the story of Anna, an artist and her family and their survival in the siege. Moving. Terrific read for anyone interested in historical dramas of this time period, or who just like a gripping, beautifully written story of survival and love.

Beautiful and rightfully bleak. 4/5 stars.This review was originally posted on my book blog.I got a copy of this from the library. It sat on the table and stared at me for four weeks. I couldn’t bring myself to progress past the opening page on which there is a reproduction of the order from Nazi High Command for Leningrad (St Petersburg) to be wiped off the face of the earth. I had a feeling reading this one would take strength, and I was right.Obviously, any book which attempts to faithfully [...]

Odd to be reading this book when the radio is reporting women and children starving in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya. We never learn the lessons of history.This book tells the story of another siege. That of Leningrad in 1941. It was encircled by the invading German army for an incredible three years during the second world war. The book tells the story of the Levin family. Principally 23 year old Anna, who has to care for her wounded and enfeebled father Mikhail, and her 5 year old brother [...]

I've been given this as a book club read. I've read the first chapter and I am distinctly unimpressed.I don't like books that break the fourth wall. It annoys me, destroys the illusion and makes me feel patronised. It was bad enough when Enid Blyton did it - but I can't stomach it in an adult read unless it is done for comedic effect or it is a memoir/first person narrative and the writer is speaking in real time. I can't accept it in a piece of work firmly set in the 1940s.This single sentence [...]

On June 22, 1941 Adolf Hitler unleashed Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union. The Germans surprised the Russians who suffered enormous casualties and retreated into the interior. The Russians had been warned by the British of Nazi intentions, but Joseph Stalin ignored the British, reasoning that London wanted to create another front in its war against Germany. Stalin did expect Hitler to break the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August, 1939 but he believed he had more time to prepare. Stalin was i [...]

This is a wonderful story of love amid deprivation and war during the siege of Leningrad. All the more meaningful because I have visited St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and taken the walking tour of the siege. The Author exquisitely describes the life there - in the summer at the dacha and the planting, writing, drawing. And then the return to the city and the growing awareness that the Germans have surrounded it, constantly shelling, but more importantly cutting off the food supply to millions of pe [...]

Since the sequel was just longlisted for the Booker and I dimly remembered reading and disliking this one a long time ago, i wanted to make sure and indeed I remembered it well; the main issue of the novel for me and the one that basically made it a fail is the world building; the 1941 Leningrad just does not feel Russian or Soviet; it can be "city generic TM" under very "nasty circumstances TM" in which "characters TM" try and survive It may have literary qualities, but it would have better bee [...]

I wavered between 3 and 4 stars. Given its subject matter, it's hard for me to say that I enjoyed this book. I certainly found it interesting and very well written. Dunmore intensely evokes the horror of the circumstances of people in Leningrad in 1941. And in this respect, it is essentially a book about hunger; how hunger and starvation defined every moment and feeling of the characters in that time and place. The writing even simulates the lightheadedness, disjointed thinking and hallucination [...]

As a rule, I'm not one of those people who believes we have to be happy for being born into a time and part of the world where most people have healthcare, running water, heating, food on their tables It's hard enough being depressed without feeling guilty about it too. But books like The Siege really bring it home that actually we are lucky. It is set during the blockade of Leningrad during which an estimated 1.5 million people died. It is a tale of survival, but not everyone survives. The line [...]

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 [...]

Helen Dunmore is quite the writer and has written a fine novel in The Siege. It's a novel of a group of characters caught up in the hard siege of Leningrad during the first terrible winter of 1941-42. Though a reader of military history, I know next to nothing about the German investment of the city except that it apparently lasted for, as Harrison Salisbury famously related, 900 days. But Dunmore seems to me to have it right. Her novel depicts what must have been the darkest of those days befor [...]

A skillful and intense novel about living through the German siege of Leningrad during the winter of 1941. When the siege begins, Anna is a young nursery school assistant who's been robbed of a career in the arts (and saddled with a dependent 5-year-old brother) by the premature death of her mother. We meet her, and her father and brother, just before the siege, when they're growing vegetables at their dacha and feeling relatively stable, even if Anna's writer father has been classed as too much [...]

This is an emotionally compelling novel that often reads like poetry. It can serve as a companion piece to Anna Reid's more recent nonfiction account of the siege of Leningrad ("Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944"). I was not only impressed by the beauty of Dunmore's prose, particularly in her depiction of the city of St. Petersburg/Leningrad itself, but also by her ability to weave an astonishing amount of historical research into her narrative, seamlessly and accurately. Dunm [...]

A beautifully written book that had me riveted from page one. Set initially in pre war Leningrad where Stalin's purges of the population are running amok and everyone is terrified of their own shadow and especially of the incautious word that will result in the early morning knock on their door and the trip in the black van from which they know they will never return. The book then moves on to the German invasion and the siege of Leningrad. If you really want to know what it is like to live on j [...]

“ A ring of siege grips the city. Nothing comes in, nothing goes out. And in the suburbs, within sight, the Germans have dug themselves in…There they squat in the outskirts of Leningrad, like wolves at the mouth of a cave.”Against this forbidding backdrop, is a tale of love and survival. The strength of family and of boundless determination. We follow Anna, a young nursery teacher, her father, a black-listed writer and her much younger brother, struggling to live in a cramped apartment, wi [...]

Why does this book only have a 3.87 rating? This is an incredible story. Anna, a 22 year old woman, strives to keep her father, her father's former lover, and her brother alive during the siege of Leningrad in 1941. I don't think that I need to give the whole story away. Thousands of people starved during that first winter when the city was cut off by the German army.Outside of the horrors that the citizens of Leningrad endured, Dunmore's writing is clear and precise. She tells the story without [...]

I've read several of Helen Dunmore's historical fiction novels and they're all good but there always seems to be something missing at the end. This one was no different. I found the story of the siege of Leningrad really interesting. There is no doubt that it is one aspect of World War II which I didn't know a great deal about. The characters were good and the tension which builds over that long winter of 1941/42 was compelling. But I found the ending was a bit of a damp squib. A pity, really as [...]

Read it in summer.Very interesting (chick-flick) viewpoint on the horrendous siege of Leningrad. Perhaps a bit slow, by war-book standards, but that is because it is about the people, and non-combatants (if that word has any meaning in the 20th century) at that. I found it oddly vivid, waking up cold and hungry in the middle of the night, despite warm temps and a full belly.Tom

Contrary to what is said on the cover, "The Seige" is none of the following:Magnificent.Brilliantly imagined.Profoundly moving.What you would expect of the result of a long fascination with Russian history, it's people and culture.It is dull.If you want to read profound writing on human deprivation and suffering then you'd be better off with Primo Levi or a good history book.

The sort of writing one wants to re-read immediately upon finishing the last page. Dense prose yet with no excess verbiage nor overblown description, no maudlin sentiments, no heavy-handed foreshadowing.

I couldn't get into this book.

Heartbreaking portrayal of the Siege of Leningrad by Hitler’s armies. By concentrating on a small group of people, Helen Dunmore describes in minute detail what a family has to do in order to survive a Russian winter on a daily ration of two slices of bread and water if they can get it. Horrifying that sieges are still used today to wipe out whole groups of people and that the UN are unable to stop it.

A beautifully written book, at times almost an extended poem. Which is just as well really because if you're looking for a page-turner, this isn't it - at least not in the conventional sense of the word. Unlike the snow, action is fairly thin on the ground, but it's not action that makes for this novel. The immersive, claustrophobic, nature of the writing draws you into a small room with five occupants in a starving Leningrad winter.In fact, although the book is entitled The Siege, the besiegers [...]


Well, even though the population of a city is slowly starved and/or frozen to death (that is, those who have not already been shot or had a bomb dropped on them), this story is a celebration of life. I left this book feeling uplifted.To begin with, the suffering feels real, it feels painful, and that’s why one can only come away from this book feeling appreciative of all that we take for granted. Having groceries in the fridge is the most obvious one, but there are also the basics like our des [...]

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    Published :2019-03-24T03:07:55+00:00