The Siege

by Helen Dunmore

The siege of Leningrad is not an event I had any prior knowledge of.  I had heard about Stalingrad, of course.

This story is of a family in Leningrad during the time of the siege, and the most enduring images are of how they cope with the privations and survive (or not).  Anna Levin is the main protagonist, together with her lover Andrei, her father Mihail, younger brother Kolya, and her father’s lover Marina.  Anna’s mother features in the story but she had died before the narrative begins.

There is not much of a plot, unless it is the historic situation itself and its effect on ordinary lives.  I suppose this is why, writing my review more than three months later, I am finding it hard to remember exactly what happens in this book!  I find that Dunmore’s writing generally is like this – personally touching accounts of relationships help the reader to understand and perhaps identify with the characters, but the story IS those relationships.