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Burning Bright

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  507 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Cosmopolitan Special Edition
Paperback, 262 pages
Published 1995 by Penguin (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  507 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017, fiction
Helen Dunmore is one of my mum's favourite novelists (the other being Barbara Trapido) and she raised me accordingly, with a steady diet of Dunmore's books for children. I wasn't allowed to read her books for adults though, and I kind of slowly forget I had ever wanted to. When she passed away earlier this month, my mum texted me asking if she could lend me her favourites of Dunmore's work - Burning Bright being the first of those.

Mostly, I really enjoyed it. Although the plot is arguably compl
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enid is an elderly sitting tenant in a dilapidated house with 'potential for development'. Owners and squatters come and go, but Enid stays put. The latest owners are Tony and Kai, who get rid of the squatters and do up part of the house, and then Kai moves in with his much younger girlfriend, Nadine.
This is mainly Nadine's story and Tony and Kai's plans for her, which involve a prominent politician, Paul. It is not as sad a story as it might be for the scenario, Nadine is naive at times, but no
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: england, read-in-2019
Wow. This was a truly gripping story: young Nadine, involved with an older man and his business partner. The partners are shady & have plans for her that she has no conception of, being 16 and fairly innocent. The partners buy an old house and evict all the squatters, but the old lady in the attic has a life tenancy. Nadine becomes friendly with Enid.

Any more of the basic plot would be a spoiler, so I'll just say that the book keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering: will Nadine will becom
Tim Atkinson
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, yes, and with moments of heart-thumping tension so great it makes you skip through prose you know demands attention just because you want to find out what is happening. And then there’s the ending. Without giving anything away, I think I can say that it’s just a tad disappointing. The book as a whole gets five stars though: worth reading for Dunmore’s restrained English poeticism even when nothing much is happening - and there’s plenty happening at all stages of the narrative. But the endi ...more
Jayne Charles
This is the fourth Helen Dunmore I’ve read and I’m still waiting for one that lives up to the excellent ‘The Siege’. To give this one its due, it has a more dramatic plot than many of her others if you boil it down to its essence, but there is the usual literary padding that separates the main events and makes it much less nail biting than it might have been in the hands of a different author.

Point of view is handled in an unconventional manner – changing from one character to another within a s
Nick Davies
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
As much as I thought this was well-written, with an interesting subject, and language which brought up strong impressions of scene and atmosphere.. I was left slightly frustrated in the end.

The story concerns parallel strands - a young woman used by her older 'businessman' of a boyfriend, the lives of said boyfriend and his business associates, and the reminisces of an old woman living in the same house (who strikes up a friendship with the young woman). As beautifully written as it was, I just
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-2011
I'm so pleased I found Helen Dunmore. Every one of her novels drags me in and holds me tightly throughout. She achieves a great balance of good writing and involving plots, which many authors struggle to achieve.

This one was pleasingly dark, shifting through time to draw gentle parallels between different characters. A tight little cast, all drawn clearly and distinctly.
Zen Cho
Fascinatingly grody and rooted in the 1990s. Only really liked one character, but Dunmore is a good writer, and it was a decent enough read.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've certainly read this before, but don't remember when. In many ways; the ways those who too vociferously purport to to teach the "rules" of writing, it's a rule breaker, but that is also the joy of it, the reason and the permission to write as one feels necessary, to tell the tale.
Dense and heading off in surprising directions, it does keep the reader eagerly guessing, concern for Nadine ever to the fore.
And does keep me hoping there's a follow up, a "what happened next" novel, but I'm not s
Nanja Beesknees
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hebbes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Claire Scottish
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dunmore writes about the dark side of human nature so beautifully.
Thought this was much better than the last I read by this author, tackles a difficult theme, ultimately about love. But leaves a serious consequence to our imagination. Rightly not comfortable.
Mavis Hewitt
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc
There was tension in the middle of the book, but somehow the end seemed to drift, took 2 attempts to get into it and if I hadn't been so near the end, not sure I would have finished it. ...more
Linh Pham
With the melancholy but excitement and passion, story of the girl Nadine dragged me to the edge of all kind of feeling. I, from a naive little girl, suddenly became a sultry, attractive and adventurous woman. Following her every single moves and decisions, I learned that even though a woman in her grows strongly and sometimes overwhelming, it is still under the control of babyish feeling. She shows vulnerability throughout the whole story. She is obsessed with the feeling of being left out in he ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my sixth Helen Dunmore novel and "Burning Bright" is one of her best. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was published twenty two years ago. Paul Parrett is a war baby (as I was) and is therefore in his late forties. He is single, a successful politician and a minister. But the story is not about him. It is about Nina who says she is nineteen but is actually three years younger.

She has left her family and moved in with her much, much older boyfriend not aware of what he does
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Ugh. I'm really not sure how to go about rating/reviewing Burning Bright. I bought it at The Secret Bookshop based on Helen Dunmore and Helen Dunmore alone, my copy being the Cosmopolitan edition which has absolutely no description of the story whatsoever. Reading it was going in blind and it turned out to be one of those cases in which a book's writing is technically skilful but you just don't like the story. Burning Bright reminded me of An Education (the film - I haven't read the book - yet) ...more
Moonyeen Blakey
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dunmore explores the corruption on innocence in this sensitively written novel.As always the reader is engaged by her poetic style and her skill in unfolding both plot and character.
Sixteen year old Nadine is being groomed for life as a high class call girl. Already Tony has a senior politician interested in her. Lulled by wealth, and a sense of security she's never before encountered, Nadine imagines herself in love with Kai, Tony's Finnish partner, but her naivete is destined to be cruelly b
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because I loved the Lie. I didn't find the writing as accomplished in this one, although it was still good. I wasn't keen on the way she switched point of view mid-chapter and sometimes mid-paragraph. I also found it confusing when she switched from first to third person and back again. It seemed a strange technique for an otherwise non-experimental novel. The plot was great, and kept me hooked, except that it seemed a bit implausible to me that Kai and Tony would have bought a house ...more
Helene Harrison
Review - Burning Bright was dark and tackled some very controversial issues, but it dealt with them sensitively. However, I think that the novel could have benefited from some more emotional involvement and depth than was present. The characters are all quite forgettable and it is the storyline which pulls the novel along rather than the characters.

Genre? - Drama / Romance

Characters? - Enid / Kai / Nadine

Setting? - London (England) & Finland

Series? - N/A

Recommend? - No

Rating - 12/20
Colin Marks
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
'Burning Bright' was an interesting read - this one book could be used in a classroom to teach how to write fiction, and how not to. Some of the writing was excellent, quick paced and descriptive, then the next chapter would try too hard to be literary and drag needlessly. I did skim towards the end, glancing quickly over those heavier paragraphs, but the book was enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading Helen's current book, 'The Lie' - something for the new year! ...more
Vi Walker
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helen Dunmore is anything but a formulaic writer. Just when you think you've worked out the back story to a character you find out that it's entirely different. This tale is, in some respects, a series of love stories but it also has a very haunting and eerie quality to it. There is often a faint undercurrent of sinisterness that makes you fearful for your favourite characters without there being any direct reason for feeling this way. A book that will stay in my mind for a long time. ...more
Anna Howorth
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark sinister read, and unputdownable. Dunmore has an incredible way with words, but she didn't seem as adept at mastering Nadine's manner of speaking - how many 16 year olds in the nineties refer to people as 'darling'? This was really the only flaw, and not a very material one. Her descriptions of the Finnish landscape were stunning, and of England's suitably grim. ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mixed feelings. Delicious, elegant writing, and a dreamlike, effortless read, but no sympathetic characters and a sinister and downright sordid plot! I was hooked by the quality and beauty of the prose, despite my qualms at the disturbing story, so I read avidly, albeit with a queasy feeling in my stomach much of the time. Next Dunmore begins today, straight after this one!
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As nearly always, Helen Dunmore is brilliant with structure, plot, and language. Shades of fairy-tale color this glimpse into the lives of twisted lovers. Although engaged in cold pursuit of various forms of gratification, some characters discover hidden depths of warmth and compassion within themselves.
Claire Sayan
I'm not sure what I've just read. What genre even is this?! I wasn't keen on it in all honesty but maybe that's because it's just not my 'thing', the writing was ok though and the plot was totally new to me, hence the 3 stars.

In the end I just felt incredibly sad for Nadine, she's only 16 after all.
Jenna Mills
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best Helen Dunmore I've read since ' The Siege' and 'The Betrayal'. I found it pretty gripping and difficult to put down despite it's strange darkness. The ending wasn't exactly what I wanted, but that's probably just as well. The characters were believable and I liked the little side plot too and the changes in viewpoint, which helped to keep things fresh. ...more
I enjoyed this book and thought that it was good. It took time for me to like the book and understand what it was about. I thought that it was a book with lots of real life situations. I thought this book was ok.
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rollicking read which was difficult to put down each night! Although some people could probably pick holes with some elements of the story or the writing I enjoyed it for the characters, plot, twits etc. I also liked the description of Finland towards the end, having been to Finland myself.
Julia Povall
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sinister book with tones of a criminal underworld. A few redeeming characters but a rather fragmented plot which went around in circles. Despite there being a number of crisis in the story, it lacked any coherence or resolution.
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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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