The Siege

The Siege

Book - 2002
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Called "elegantly, starkly beautiful" by The New York Times Book Review, The Siege is Helen Dunmore's masterpiece. Her canvas is monumental -- the Nazis' 1941 winter siege on Leningrad that killed six hundred thousand -- but her focus is heartrendingly intimate. One family, the Levins, fights to stay alive in their small apartment, held together by the unlikely courage and resourcefulness of twenty-two-year-old Anna. Though she dreams of an artist's life, she must instead forage for food in the ever more desperate city and watch her little brother grow cruelly thin. Their father, a blacklisted writer who once advocated a robust life of the mind, withers in spirit and body. At such brutal times everything is tested. And yet Dunmore's inspiring story shows that even then, the triumph of the human heart is that love need not fall away. "The novel's imaginative richness," writes The Washington Post, "lies in this implicit question: In dire physical circumstances, is it possible to have an inner life? The answer seems to be that no survival is possible without one." Amid the turmoil of the siege, the unimaginable happens -- two people enter the Levins' frozen home and bring a kind of romance where before there was only bare survival. A sensitive young doctor becomes Anna's devoted partner, and her father is allowed a transcendent final episode with a mysterious woman from his past. The Siege marks an exciting new phase in a brilliant career, observed Publishers Weekly in a starred review: "Dunmore has built a sizable audience ... but this book should lift her to another level of literary prominence." "Dunmore's ... novel ... is an intimate record of an extraordinary human disaster ... a moving story of personal triumph and public tragedy." -- Laura Ciolkowski, San Francisco Chronicle "In Helen Dunmore's hands, this epic subject assumes a lyrical honesty that sometimes wrenches but more often lifts the spirit." -- Frances Taliaferro, The Washington Post "Dunmore unravels the tangle of suffering, war, and base emotions to produce a story woven with love ... Extraordinary." -- Barbara Conaty, Library Journal (starred review)
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, c2002.
Edition: 1st Grove Press paperback ed.
ISBN: 9780802139580
Characteristics: 293, [1] p. ; 21 cm.

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WVMLStaffPicks Sep 10, 2014

Helen Dunmore’s award-winning novel takes place during the siege of Leningrad. The Levin family is trapped inside the city during one of the most brutal campaigns of WWII. Dunmore shifts between the story of the city and the intimate details of a family struggling with day to day life. She captures the incredible emotions of living with deprivation, fear, hope, and love in a brutal time. The Levin’s story is continued with The Betrayal which occurs during Stalin’s 1950s Russia.

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uncommonreader
Aug 02, 2012

This is the story of the 1941 seige of Leningrad and the wounds of war as they occur in people's everyday lives. It is also a love story. This is a wonderful book. "The Betrayal" continues the story.

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mpfickes
Jul 02, 2012

The Siege starts with a frontispiece culled from Hitler's secret papers: the 1941 call for the obliteration of Leningrad and all of its inhabits. Dunmore plunges the reader into the lives of Anna, little brother Kolya, and her father Mikhail, a once successful writer whose work has fallen out of favor. Their lives are already in the grip of Stalin's paranoic regime at the novel's start , but as the Germans' blockade cuts the city off from external supports, the questions preoccupying Anna and her father shift as they must focus on survival. Without an ounce of sentimentality, Dunmore paints a world of frigid cold and gut aching hunger. She forces the reader to ponder the questions that haunt Anna: under threat of death, do I choose life or succumb to the passivity of despair? Could I survive with body, mind and humanity intact?

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