Saturday, 31 July 2010

Man Booker; The Betrayal

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Siege, in which Helen Dunmore tells the story of the siege of Leningrad through the eyes of one family, I was really looking forward to The Betrayal.

Like A thousand Autumns..., honesty, doing the right thing and being able to look yourself in the eye feature large in this book. In fact, it is the core of the story. Ten years after the siege Anna and her husband, Andrei, have built a life together with her much younger brother, Kolya. But it's a life amidst The Terror a life of looking over one's shoulder, guarded words and never-ending unease. A life of wondering when Stalin's hand will be felt upon one's shoulder. It is into this atmosphere that Kolkov's son is admitted to Andrei's hospital. In the rush to avoid the inevitable persecution which will be a result of failure, the child becomes irrelevant. He is to the doctors in the hospital simply the son of a rightly-feared man, simply Kolkov's son. But not to Andrei and another of his colleagues, who despite having the case thrust upon them, do their best to care for the child at the centre of all of this turmoil.

I enjoyed this book. I felt that Dunmore once again conveyed something of the atmosphere of living through The Terror. (I say 'something', because I'm fairly sure that any fiction about such events is only a mere shadow, no matter how adept the author.) With The Siege I was left wanting to know more, but felt that the book was in itself complete. This time I am left with a sense of dissatisfaction. The end indicates to me that there may well be a third book, but even allowing for that it still doesn't leave me satisfied.

Scores on the door: 7 out of 10

ETA: New scoring system

No comments:

Post a Comment