Helen Dunmore's gripping novel meets Anna and Andrei, protagonists of her earlier, critically acclaimed novel The Siege (2001), as they endeavor to create a normal life in 1950s Leningrad. (Note: while reading The Siege may be useful for getting background information, it's certainly not necessary; The Betrayal stands very well on its own.) The siege is over, the newly planted trees have begun to bloom around the city, and Anna and Andrei are fiercely committed to living a calm, predictable life. The all-encompassing organs of the Soviet state, however, make living a quiet life challenging. The terrors of life under the siege - little food, daily threats from the invading Germans, the imminence of death - have given way to a more benign terror, the gripping power of the authoritarian Soviet state. Though life is not as horrible as it was during the Great Purge of the late 1930s, the ...
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