Friday, December 07, 2012

Book Recommendation - "The Betrayal" by Helen Dunmore

I love reading, but although I have a Kindle, I prefer books.  And I really prefer used books because I like the idea that they are being shared and enjoyed by many people.  I use to acquire and trade most of my books but that means I usually have to wait until what I have requested becomes available in the system.  Sometimes it is weeks and sometimes months before a book I have requested pops up.  "The Betrayal" by Helen Dunmore is such a book.  I remember reading a review one morning and putting in on my request list and then I forgot about it.  Not only did I forget about it, I didn't have any idea what the book was even about by the time I received it. Since I had forgotten why I had wanted to read it it kept getting pushed to the back of the reading list until this week and then I had to stay up late at night reading because I was so engrossed.

"The Betrayal" takes place in 1952 post WWII Leningrad.  The protagonists, who were introduced in an earlier book, "The Siege", have established a life as normal as one could in Russia during Stalin's time.  He is a doctor, she a nursery school teacher and her brother, who is almost young enough to be their child, live in an adequate apartment not shared by other families. They have plenty to eat and they are well respected in their professions  Then the doctor must treat the son of a senior secret police officer.  As a doctor he knows what he must do, as a husband and parent he knows the potential consequences. 

This book was riveting and very well researched.  She brilliantly describes the tension and fear that was part of everyday life.  It acts as a reminder that power and the powerful can do unspeakable things when left unchecked.

I was asked if I planned to read the earlier book, "The Siege", and I think not, because I think I would find it too upsetting given her amazing descriptive and evocative powers.  Does that even make sense that I would NOT want to read a book because it was TOO good?  But you should read "The Betrayal".

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