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Many years ago I visited the memorial cemetery for the victims of the September 1941 to January 1944 siege of Leningrad and was deeply moved by the immense numbers who died, but this book shows what it must have been like for individuals.
The narrative starts slowly as we get to know the main characters and care about what happens to them. A picture is painted of their normal life, which makes their subsequent suffering and courage all the more poignant as they struggle day-by-day during the siege to keep alive. It's a vivid portrayal of the horrors of war for civilians
It may sound like a dismal listen but it is also uplifting for, although this is fiction, there must be thousands of untold stories from that time of the heroic efforts and bravery of ordinary people.
The narrator is excellent.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
This novel takes you into the heart of the Leningrad siege, seen through the eyes of Anna, a resourceful young woman. It is beautifully written and two love affairs - the father's and Anna's - tie together all the research which clearly went into the book and make it live. The cold of the winter is so chilling I shivered listening to it and the business of simply surviving is very gripping. While I sometimes find Jilly Bond's voice a bit too light she does this novel full justice.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What would have made The Siege better?
Rounded and more fully developed characters are absent. The heroine, Anna, remains impossibly good and patient and brave. Her little brother remains bratty and spoilt and whiney. They are in Leningrad in 1941 -- some psychological trajectory would have been so much more interesting to counterbalance the breakdown of their bodies.
Has The Siege turned you off from other books in this genre?
No. I have read a few non-fiction accounts of the Leningrad siege and find it fascinating. I have also read the author's The Betrayal, which I enjoyed, hence my choice of The Siege.
Which character – as performed by Jilly Bond – was your favorite?
Marina, the actress who is persona non grata in Stalinist Russia. She's the most interesting because she has most shade and light, and Ms Bond reads her beautifully.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
As a portrayal of Leningrad as a city and in that particular era it is sensitive and does not revel in the brutality.
Any additional comments?
I can see the writer turning the non-fiction books on this subject into fiction, ticking off the boxes as she references the Kirov works, inhabitants eating wallpaper paste, leather and dandelion leaves, artists sketching so there is a record of what happened. It comes across as contrived because the writer herself lacks gravitas.