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The Betrayal (The Siege #2)

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,136 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
Internationally-acclaimed author Helen Dunmore follows her bestselling novel, The Siege, with a riveting and emotionally absorbing portrait of post-war Soviet Russia, a world of violence and terror, where the severest acts of betrayal can come from the most trusted allies.

In 1952 Leningrad, Andrei, a young doctor, and Anna, a nursery school teacher, are forging a life toge
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 2010)
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The Bronze Horseman by Paullina SimonsAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyTatiana and Alexander by Paullina SimonsDoctor Zhivago by Boris PasternakWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Historical Fiction: Russia
84th out of 176 books — 294 voters
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Books Set in Russia
54th out of 90 books — 24 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,425)
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Aug 30, 2010 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite the Booker long-listing, or maybe because of it, I approached this one with some trepidation. I've never read any Helen Dunmore, and I remember being put off by a review of Mourning Ruby that called it "like a Russian doll" - too literary for me, I thought, and I've never touched her stuff since. So I pick this one up, and then find it's a sequel to The Siege, which I haven't read - but don't be put off by that, I wasn't, and it worked perfectly as a stand-alone. And I now have a new aut ...more
Oct 06, 2011 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Siege, her novel set during the 900 day siege of Leningrad, Helen Dunmore created a can’t-look-away portrait of a city and people in unimaginable circumstances. Her map of motives, loyalties and escalating struggle is spellbinding. Now Dunmore has brought us a sequel to that excellent novel, The Betrayal. This new book is the next chapter in the lives of Anna, Andrei and Kolya.

The Betrayal is set ten years after the end of the siege. Anna, the daughter of a dissident writer, and Andrei h
Steven Z.
May 09, 2014 Steven Z. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helen Dunmore’s THE BETRAYAL brings to mind the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn as she tells the story of a physician and nursery school teacher who get caught up in the Stalinist paranoia that existed in the Soviet Union following World War II until Stalin’s death in March, 1953. The chronological parameters of the book are the Nazi siege of Leningrad during the war culminating in the Doctor’s Plot where Stalin and his henchman dreamed up a conspiracy of Jewish physicians who were bent on killi ...more
Oct 23, 2011 Dem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Helen DunmoreThe Siege I had her sequel on my shelf for a very long time and decided it was time to read it. I wasn’t blown away by the The Siege but still was intrigued by the blurb of The Betrayal and decided to read it, but this novel is also a bit flat and dull.

Set in Leningrad in 1952 toward the end of the reign of Stalin, Anna a nursery school teacher, and her husband Andrei a doctor live a quiet existence in their two room apartment. They try hard not to come to the attention
Dec 18, 2010 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandra Lawson
Aug 20, 2011 Sandra Lawson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that Helen Dunmore can do no wrong where I'm concerned. The Betrayal picks up on the story of Andrei and Anna in post-war Stalinist Leningrad. I was impressed by the way Dunmore worked the earlier novel, The Siege, and her evocation of the sensations of hunger and cold that formed the background to Leningrad during the siege of 1941/2, and this later tale is equally impressive.

The reader is sucked into the story of the young couple, and those around them. I found myself reading
B. Morrison
This new novel by Helen Dunmore provides what seems to me to be a realistic portrayal of life in Stalin’s Russia. It takes place in Leningrad in 1952 where a young married couple is trying to live an ordinary life while navigating the treacherous currents of a society where everyone fears the arbitrary and violent Ministry of State Security. Andrei, a doctor, and Anna, a nursery school teacher, have no children of their own but include Anna’s teen-aged brother Kolya in their family. The three of ...more
Anupama Ma
Apr 22, 2014 Anupama Ma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Siege made me cold and depressed, The Betrayal made me frustrated and angry.

Ten years after The Siege, Anna, Andrei and Kolya live a happy contended life. The horrors of the siege and the war are slowly fading away and they look forward to the small joys of life like a lazy weekend at the dacha and the hospital ball. And then terror strikes again, this time in the form of stupidity. Yes, there is no other word to describe it, and I shudder when I realise that this kind of stupidity is not ju
Jun 13, 2011 Esil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a bleak look at living in the Soviet Union at the end of Stalin's reign. What seems like an extraordinary and unrealistic level of fear and paranoia on the part of the protagonists turns out to be justified (in the book and historically). As in "The Siege", Dunmore does a great job in conveying how it would feel in a realistic--almost mundane--way to live in such a repressive regime. This is not a fun or even entertaining book, but was certainly educational and interesting.
Dec 13, 2011 Daisy rated it it was amazing
Just exactly my kind of story.

I don't think you have to read The Siege by Helen Dunmore before you read this one. It stands alone just fine.

There's no protection in making yourself small and hoping to become invisible. All you do is make yourself small. p. 75
Carolyn Mck
Jan 08, 2016 Carolyn Mck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always look forward to a Dunmore novel: grounded in history but with the focus on people’s reactions, emotions and decisions. This is a sequel to The Siege (a memorable testament to people’s suffering - and survival – in the World War Two siege of Leningrad). It is now post-war: the end-days of the brutal Stalin period. One Stalinist purge was of doctors accused of maltreatment of senior Communist party officials. Here, the doctor is Andrei, married to Anna. The crucial case is the son of a se ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book!
Love how it explores the ordinary people at the heart of Stalin's vicious and ruthless regime. I certainly feel that I know more about Soviet prisons than I ever wanted to! The Betrayal has a great plot, terrific characters. Maybe not quite as great as The Siege, but different and remarkable in its own way.
Kathleen Dixon
This has been on my to-read list for 6 years, and managed to get into my Languishing Literature Challenge this year only because I romped through the oldest 8 and then decided I could manage 20 this year instead of the 10 I'd planned. I'm not sure I'm going to manage the whole 20, but that's by the by, because I'm extremely glad that I've read this.

This also ties in very nicely with another book I'm currently reading - Leningrad: Siege and Symphony - a factual book about the Siege of Leningrad a
Mar 06, 2015 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a run of books that were not bad but really just so-so it was a relief to pick this up and discover once again what a superb novelist Helen Dunmore is.

She writes in a quiet and steady way about an extraordinary situation in communist Russia, extraordinary for us, not for them. The pressure that both protagonists are under to remain decent and compassionate, yet under the radar of the controlling elite.

It's a very tense novel with fear building constantly. But what a joy to read something
May 22, 2014 Sigried rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn’t resist reading The Betrayal immediately after finishing the last page of The Siege. My expectations were very high , so I will excuse Helen Dunmore for not blowing me away entirely. I understand that parts of the first book have to be repeated for those unlucky readers who haven’t stumbled onto the prequel yet, but it sometimes slowed the pace down for me. However, the beautiful writing and superb characterization make it still into an engrossing, bone chilling story about Stalin’s Ru ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Patricia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the second book of a trilogy although it also stands alone. It is set in 1952 Stalinist Leningrad with a family of a husband and wife and the wife's sixteen year old brother.

It is all pretty depressing. The sixteen year old brother is generally unpleasant and the other two treat him as a child. He is depicted as an obvious villain who would be ready to betray the other two but I didn't read the next book so I don't know if that is what happened.

Although it was set in Leningrad it didn't
David Gill
My first book by this author. Set in Leningrad towards the end of the Stalinist era, this book captures well the terrors of living in Russia in those times. The story is about a doctor who becomes involved in the treatment of the son of a high ranking politician. You are tense from the opening chapter of the book until the last page. The author cleverly makes you aware of untold horror without ever describing it, you just have this sense of it all the time. A great read which left me numb when I ...more
Robyn Smith
Feb 07, 2015 Robyn Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, spine-chilling evocation of The Doctors' Plot in Leningrad in 1952. Stalin became increasingly paranoid before his death and purged, or arrested, one group of professionals after another, engineers, architects, then doctors, particularly those who were Jewish in origin.
In the creation of Anna, an early childhood teacher and her husband, Andrei, a doctor who worked tirelessly during the Siege of Leningrad, as well as Anna's brother Kolya, Dunmore evokes post-war Russia with a chilli
Anna, her doctor husband Andrei and her 16 year old brother Kolya are survivors of the savage World War Two siege of Leningrad. Ten years on, the perils of starvation and death have been replaced by a more peaceful existence but one always accompanied by the more insidious fear of doing or saying the wrong thing in Stalin's Russia. Andrei is pulled unwillingly into treating the 10 year old son of Volkov the head of Soviet State Security. He wants to care for the boy but Volkov has a fearsome rep ...more
May 21, 2014 Scottnshana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, here's a good medical dilemma: the Hippocratic Oath says you must take the case of the 10-year-old boy with bone cancer and amputate the leg below the knee to save him. But what if his father is one of the most vicious secret policemen in 1952 Leningrad, a man who holds the power to kill your entire family on a whim? "The Betrayal" reminded me a lot of Arthur Koestler's classic "Darkness at Noon," with the big difference that when the NKVD shows up in the middle of the night to take Dunmor ...more
Aug 02, 2012 AlixJamie rated it really liked it
4.5 out of 5
Recommended for: Ages 17+ (language, grit and several mature scenes)
Categories: Historical, Sweet Romance, Solid Writing, Can't-Put-It-Down

Plot: The synopsis here is absolutely, positively intriguing. I have a basic understanding of Stalinistic Russia. I know it was horrible and I know it was worse than horrible. But Gloria Whelan's books for children don't come close to delving into the horror that was post WW2, communistic Russia.

This book is brutal and merciless, but als
Sep 18, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, russian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 16, 2011 Brenda rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Having re-read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale immediately before entering Helen Dunmore's The Betrayal, I found myself observing similarities I might not have otherwise detected in the imagined worlds, one set in a possible future, the other in a realized past. In both fictionalized societies, characters live in fear of ominipresent surveillance.

In Dunmore's Soviet Russia, a woman who is content in her current position as a nursery school teacher is warned that she must not allow her dev
Nancy Oakes
The Betrayal is set in Stalin's USSR, beginning in 1952. The story focuses on a couple, Andrei, a doctor and Anna, who teaches at a nursery school. Andrei and Anna spend their days trying to do what everyone else in that period of time tried to accomplish (with varying degrees of success): to keep a low profile while going about their daily work and home lives. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Andrei and Anna and Anna's younger brother Kolya to do so -- at home, they attract the wrath o ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Andrew rated it did not like it
I will start by saying that I did not read The Siege but I had I came into The Betrayal not knowing that it was a sequel (I mean they were published nine years apart and the cover says nothing to it being a sequel either. However with that in mind, I can't say this was a good book. It is premised on a guy that has been through a lot making what he knew was a bad decision and going through with it anyway and then being upset at the consequences. Also going back to the issue of sequel/prequel, I w ...more
Dec 01, 2011 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*This book received as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Helen Dunmore’s novel is a stark look into life of post-WWII Russia, where Stalin’s grip on the country and his people is manifested in myriad ways. The story follows a young doctor who is charged with caring for the son of a widely-feared secret police officer and the consequences of this treatment when matters begin to spiral out of his control. I found one of the strongest aspects of the novel to be Dunmore’s ability to articulate (frighteni
Aug 02, 2011 Mamta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Write a review...This book happens to be the first I have read from this year's Booker longlist. A sequel to The Seize, another well regarded book, that I haven't read, but will now, reversing the flow of time with Anne and Andrei. The author offers a chilling insight into Stalin's Soviet Union and a sensitive portrayal of the human will, to not just survive, but to hold on to the humane. The writing is subtle but incisive...taking the reader to the core of that time, the struggles, the small ba ...more
Oct 13, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
**Disclaimer - I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

I very much enjoyed this book. I wish I would have read the prequel to this, "The Siege" but I do not think that it made much of a difference to this story whether you read it or not. After reading The Betrayal, I will now read "The Siege."

The story takes place in post-war Russia, in 1952. Anna, a nursery school teacher and Andrei, a doctor, are married and raising Anna's 16 year old brother, Kolya. Andrei is forced to treat the son of an
Oct 30, 2011 Becky rated it liked it
I won this book in a goodreads giveaway.
This is a book about a doctor who is forced into a corner and ends up treating the son of a very influential member of the Russian secret police. The story is about how this decision impacts the lives of his family and depicts the way a society reacts to dictatorships and the power of fear when we let it rule our actions.
I thought this was a very interesting story, and it made me think about the way that a group of people can be led slowly to allow a small
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I was born in December 1952, in Yorkshire, the second of four children. My father was the eldest of twelve, and this extended family has no doubt had a strong influence on my life, as have my own children. In a large family you hear a great many stories. You also come to understand very early that stories hold quite different meanings for different listeners, and can be recast from many viewpoints ...more
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“Anna's too young yet to know that the past is just as real as the present, even though you have to pretend that it isn't, and carry on towards the future.” 1 likes
“Fear of this order is not an emotion. It is like a virus overwhelming every cell of his body, while his mind struggles to remain clear.” 1 likes
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