The basics: This novel is set in Leningrad in 1941, when it is under German siege and winter is coming. Everyone is fighting for survival. Anna, the 22-year-old heroine, is taking care of her younger brother; their mother died in childbirth. Their father is a writer, but his stories are no longer published because of his political views.
My thoughts: I debated reading The Siege, but I am so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not a scholar of Russian history, and seeing the War from the standpoint of Leningrad was absolutely fascinating to me. I learned so much by reading this book, but I think those familiar with the setting and history would still enjoy this novel. Several times I was so wrapped up in the story I forgot it was real; it read like a dystopian novel:
"Words are regaining their meanings, after years of masquerade. Hunger means hunger, terror means terror, enemy means enemy...Everything gets closer day by day, as siege and winter eat into their lives." (page 181, hardcover)Perhaps what I enjoyed most about this novel was Dumore's ability to tell both the story of Leningrad and its people as a whole as well as the story of Anna and her family without shortchanging either. It is both a novel of war and life. The reader needs the hope of Anna to survive the vivid descriptions of life during the siege. I confess, simply knowing there was a sequel to this book allowed me to have hope, and I'm eagerly awaiting The Betrayal soon.
The verdict: The Siege is a stark, poetic, haunting novel of war and survival. Highly recommended for fans of literary fiction, international fiction, historical fiction, military fiction and dystopian fiction.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Length: 293 pages
Publication date: January 2, 2002
Source: my local public library
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