Sunday, 26 June 2011

Book Review - The Seige - Helen Dunmore

Having just read a book about life in Berlin during the Second World War (Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada) which was very depressing, disturbing and brutal, I wasn't sure I was ready for another book about the war but I'd already got this one out of the library.  However, it made a better read, even though the topic (the seige of Leningrade during the winter of 1941) was still emotional.  The story revolves around the Levin family (father, daughter and son) and the terrible winter when malnutrition had people boiling leather to make soup, burning furniture and books to try and keep warm and stay alive another day. People became too weak to even move their dead relatives from their homes and those still able left them piled up outside the cemetary. This is a city where possibly forty thousand people died in the December of that year.  Depressing though it sounds the story is beautifully written and a thread of hope runs through it.  I had heard about the seige but never really understood how bad things got and what people were prepared to do to survive.  I hope I haven't put anyone off reading this because it is well worth it and I shall look out more of Helen Dunmore's books as she is such a descriptive writer.

Helen Dunmore

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