The Siege, by Helen Dummore

Set in Leningrad in 1941, during the winter when the Germans lay siege to the city in an attempt to starve its inhabitants into submission. In this unlikely setting, two love stories are told.

Pretty good, although maybe I wasn't as impressed with it as Steve seems to have been. The descriptions of the conditions were very convincing, as lack of food and fuel caused people to have to manage with ever diminishing resources. And the joy of discovering a jar of jam, when you've been surviving on a slice of bread a day.

What I thought was good was the way that there seemed to be little attempt on behalf of the citizens to understand what powers were in control of their situation: they just had to cope. And while the food shortages and cold were far more serious than normal, coping was something that they were used to doing already - there was a feeling that this was, well, maybe not exactly what they deserved, but perhaps not far different from what they felt they could expect.

The other thing was the sense of isolatation you felt: Anna and her family were holed up in an apartment, but Anna queued for their rations every day, and Andrei was working in a hospital, but there was very little description of interaction with others, and this worked well in conveying the sense that everyone was responsible for his/herself.

Having just seen "The Winter's Tale" this week, I noticed what I think was a mistake in the book - where Marina is reading from the play and quotes from it, it's referred to as "A Winter's Tale".

I'd read more by Dunmore, and also would like to read more about this period of history - I didn't really know much about it before this book.

Completed : 11-Jul-2009

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