The Siege by Helen Dunmore

About the book

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.

Reviewed by Hayling Island Library Reading Group:

A beautifully and cleverly written human story of survival during the devastatingly cold first winter of the Leningrad Siege. Dunmore writes with poetic style of the love, protection and duty the 6 foremost characters bestow on each other. There are lovely descriptive passages. and not too unbearable desperate ones. Our group found the book thought provoking and it prompted a lot of discussion. Read it!

Rating: ****

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13 thoughts on “The Siege by Helen Dunmore”

  1. Review by U3A1 Reading Group:
    We all appreciated the power of her descriptions and evocation of atmosphere. She handled the relationships skilfully, particularly with the child. We found it very well worth reading.
    Star rating: ***

  2. Review by Hartley Reader Reading group:
    A half full book rather than half empty. Well written, very descriptive, good characterisation. We all liked it, most of us thought it beautiful, one or two found it very sad. It maybe lacked a few facts of historical detail.
    Star rating: ****

  3. Review by Shipton Bellinger WI:
    All agreed that Helen Dunmore writes well. Some really enjoyed this book but others found it depressing. It certainly generated discussion and is one of those books that everyone should read.
    Star rating: ***

  4. Review by Basingstoke Library – Thursday Group:
    The story of a terrible time in history written very simply and told through eyes of a young girl, Anna. It is hard to imagine just how difficult life was for ordinary people. The never-ending search for food and clothing in terrible weather which was an ordinary part of her life as she struggled to keep her family safe at a time when one wrong word overheard or a wrong opinion expressed could see you imprisoned!
    Star rating: ***

  5. Review by Southampton U3A Reading Group:
    Excellent book, well researched. Absorbing read, realistic portrayal of life under siege with background information re: life in the USSR under Stalin.
    Star rating: ****

  6. Review by Bedhampton Reading Group:
    This promised to be a depressing book because of the subject matter. The poetic and descriptive writing, however, and the concentration on one family’s experience of famine, cold and danger during the siege of Leningrad made this a real page turner. A powerful and moving novel – memorable and well written.
    Star rating: ***

  7. Review by Denmead Reading Circle:
    Some people thought it best book read in group, others not happy about war stories and one did not like style. Overall the book was enjoyed.
    Star rating: ***

  8. Review by Entre Nous Reading Group:
    An excellent read enjoyed by all in our book group. Very well researched and written story set in the tragedy of the siege of Leningrad in 1941. Helen Dunmore makes you believe that she experienced it herself.
    Star rating: ****

  9. Review by Novel Reading Group:
    Ideas Thought it was a worthwhile read with believable characters. Horrified at the treatment of the children and amazed that anyone survived the intense cold and starvation. Would read another of Helen Dunmore’s works.
    Star rating: ***/****

  10. Review by Eastleigh Library Wednesday Group:
    This was an extremely harrowing story of the plight of Leningrad citizens during the siege. Brilliantly written.
    Star rating: ****

  11. Review by Solent U3A Reading Group:
    Generally well received. The writing was thought very descriptive and the story line harrowing and well written. Many of our group will be reading the sequel.
    Star rating: ***

  12. Review by Stubbington Book Buddies:
    Extremely well written insight into the conditions experienced during the siege of Lleningrad. Helen Dunmore clearly demonstrates her ability to convey a wide range of emotions.
    Star rating: ****

  13. Review by Ems Valley U3A Reading Group
    For once we all agreed – it is a remarkable book, well researched and beautifully written. Moving, thought provoking and upsettting.
    Rating: ****

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