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.
©2002 Helen Dunmore (P)2010 Isis Publishing Ltd
Many years ago I visited the memorial cemetery for the victims of the September 1941 to January 1944 siege of Leningrad and was deeply moved by the immense numbers who died, but this book shows what it must have been like for individuals.
The narrative starts slowly as we get to know the main characters and care about what happens to them. A picture is painted of their normal life, which makes their subsequent suffering and courage all the more poignant as they struggle day-by-day during the siege to keep alive. It's a vivid portrayal of the horrors of war for civilians
It may sound like a dismal listen but it is also uplifting for, although this is fiction, there must be thousands of untold stories from that time of the heroic efforts and bravery of ordinary people.
The narrator is excellent.
This novel takes you into the heart of the Leningrad siege, seen through the eyes of Anna, a resourceful young woman. It is beautifully written and two love affairs - the father's and Anna's - tie together all the research which clearly went into the book and make it live. The cold of the winter is so chilling I shivered listening to it and the business of simply surviving is very gripping. While I sometimes find Jilly Bond's voice a bit too light she does this novel full justice.
Loved this book & didn't want it to end even though the subject was so harrowing, Leningrad stripped of its veneer & laid bare, the human spirit mustn't be underestimated. Jilly Bond the narrator brings much to the story, I'm not sure you'd get the same pathos from reading the book yourself.
This is a very well written story about the siege of Leningrad. It is about normal people, just like you and me, who find themselves in the most adverse circumstances, having to endure a blockade with the resulting lack of food. It is a truly harrowing tale of survival against the odds, of love amidst the misery, of beauty among the ugliness. Dunmore is a genius of creating a feeling of authenticity, you feel as if these people are real, and indeed the blockade really happened and more than a million people died of starvation.
One of the few audiobooks I didn't listen through to the end. Despite being set at a harrowing time in history, the story was too slow moving and the only character I found really interesting was a secondary character whose name I can't recall (and it was not the selfish father or the tedious Marina). But whoever she was, she had a bit of spark. However, I don't like giving wholly negative reviews and would like to balance this by saying that other members of my book club found it fascinating.
A narrator has the power to make or break a story, Jilly Bond is one of the best narrators I have come across
"It's bad when you wish the kid would die"
Rounded and more fully developed characters are absent. The heroine, Anna, remains impossibly good and patient and brave. Her little brother remains bratty and spoilt and whiney. They are in Leningrad in 1941 -- some psychological trajectory would have been so much more interesting to counterbalance the breakdown of their bodies.
No. I have read a few non-fiction accounts of the Leningrad siege and find it fascinating. I have also read the author's The Betrayal, which I enjoyed, hence my choice of The Siege.
Marina, the actress who is persona non grata in Stalinist Russia. She's the most interesting because she has most shade and light, and Ms Bond reads her beautifully.
As a portrayal of Leningrad as a city and in that particular era it is sensitive and does not revel in the brutality.
I can see the writer turning the non-fiction books on this subject into fiction, ticking off the boxes as she references the Kirov works, inhabitants eating wallpaper paste, leather and dandelion leaves, artists sketching so there is a record of what happened. It comes across as contrived because the writer herself lacks gravitas.
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