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When the Doves Disappeared

(Kvartetti #3)

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  3,025 ratings  ·  348 reviews
From the acclaimed author of Purge ("a stirring and humane work of art" —The New Republic) comes a riveting, chillingly relevant new novel of occupation, resistance, and collaboration in Eastern Europe.

1941: In Communist-ruled, war-ravaged Estonia, two men are fleeing from the Red Army - Roland, a fiercely principled freedom fighter, and his slippery cousin Edgar. When the
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published August 30th 2012)
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A to Z around the world personal challenge -E is for Estonia

Technically, Sofi Oksanen is Finnish but she has Estonian origins and the novel is set there. As such, I allowed myself to change her location for my purposes.

I have to admit that I’ve always struggled to remember which of the three small Baltic countries (Estonia, Lithuania and Letonia) is which and what are their capitals. Well, no more, I will get at least one right. I believe reading a book about a country’s history helps to
Amalia Gkavea
"The clatter of dishes from the kitchen...the sounds of people who have someone with them as they do their evening chores.All that had been taken from me."

*Disclaimer-Any kind of political comments will be deleted at once.*

You live in a country that suffers, passing from the hands of one oppressor to the other.Armies come as liberators only to turn into tyrants.Then,the other tyrants arrive and remain in power for decades.In the midst of this nightmare,you are imprisoned within yourself, suf
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the nature of evil
Maybe this book won't make you angry. Maybe you'll tell yourself that it's only a novel, that the characters in it weren't real people, that none of it ever happened, that it's exaggerated or sensationalist, that it wasn't really the way it's described here.

It would be nice to believe that, and I suppose that in some narrow technical sense it is just fiction. But if we neglect details about names and dates, I'm pretty sure that it's all true. This is what evil looks like. It's a word many people
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Tiina by: My mom
Shelves: kotimainen
Sofi Oksanen is without a doubt one of the best Finnish contemporary authors, perhaps one of the greatest overall, too. Her prose is beautiful: the language is alive, it is never static or boring but always manages to describe the situation perfectly. It is a pleasure to read her books, every page is like an artwork but without being too complicated to understand.

I loved this book even more than I loved Puhdistus and cannot understand why it has received so much criticism. I think the character
Sleepless Dreamer
Jul 14, 2020 marked it as didn-t-finish-but-plan-to
I hate leaving books unfinished but I've been reading this for a while and frankly, I'm a little lost. I'm off to read Purge instead! Maybe I'll Finnish this some other day (I couldn't stop myself, I am sorry). ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2016
Dark, unsettling, and captures the bleakness and paranoia of soviet times quite well, as well as the brief German occupation. Not altogether successful for me in terms of character believability, and at times the pacing lagged. I loved the historical content and the significance of Tallin’s and Estonia’s changing name. Uneven overall, but enjoyable.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A book about trust and betrayal.

Estonia is a small country at the head of the Baltic Sea, its inhabitants speak a language related to no other in Europe save Finnish. Ruled successively by the Danes, Swedes and Russians, it enjoyed 20 years of independence after WW1 before being crushed between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. It is independent once again having broken away from the USSR in 1991.

This book is set during the Second World War and continues into the sixties, picking up the wars a
Not as good as Purge. This one was a bit uneven and the characters hard to get into.
Roland is the partisan, Edgar is a collaborator, forger, chameleon and general bad guy and Juudit, Edgar's wife is tossed between what side of Estonia she should be supporting.
The interest in this book is the way Estonians had to handle the Russians, then the Germans, then the Russians again. Collaborators one day, traitors the next. Friends become enemies. The stress on the people must have been immense and this
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Poland, France, Germany, North Africa, Japan - so much of WWII is familiar territory. But Estonia? I knew generally where in the world it exists, so could find it on a map, though I wouldn't have been able to point to it immediately. I can now. First occupied by the Bolsheviks, Estonians were generally relieved when Germany arrived and occupied their country. There was, however, a small contingent of freedom fighters who immediately recognized one tyranny is not better than another.

This is the s
Aug 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-read, audible, estonia, ww2, hf
"In 1940, Estonia was occupied and illegally annexed by the Soviet Union as a result of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. During the war Estonia was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941, then reoccupied by the Soviet Union in 1944. Estonia regained independence in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR." that is taken directly from Wiki.

What was it like living in the country then? That is what this book is about. You follow two different time periods - the 40s and the 60s - but the same people. You flip ba
Mar 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Estonia torn by second world war, through the eyes of three characters, representing three different ways of life.
Enjoyed historical aspect the most, seeing a country collaborating with Hitler while here in Poland that was basically always out of question, also due to Nazi Germany politics, was deeply engaging.
Oksanen has very smooth almost melodic way of writing, yet it's quite sentimental and the latter bothered a bit.
She writes female characters well, those feel real and complex, while mal
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: estonia, finland
When The Doves Disappeared continues the themes from (the rather magnificent) Purge; wartime and post-war Estonia, a small country caught between Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union. And like Purge, it does so in two parallel timelines, with the story set first in the early 40s as nationalist Estonians welcome the German forces who "liberate" the newly incorporated Estonian SSR, and picking up again in the early 60s as an entire generation has grown up under Soviet rule.

And yet the focus char
May 13, 2016 rated it liked it
This is definitely not escapist literature. It's bleak and cold and there's no justice. Honourable people finish last and collaborators and turncoats bask in the sunlight of Party recognition and are able to pack off enemies or unwanted wives to lunatic asylums, force people into hiding or ensure an arrest by a mere few words exchanged with the right person. Paranoia is a survival mechanism. To be casual in your acquaintances is to be reckless. Family means little. Everyone will misunderstand ev ...more
A good look at Estonia in it's WWII and postWWII era. While I don't agree with every characters' choice in this book, I can understand them. And again, as someone with very little understanding of this part of the world, and at this time, I appreciate the insight.

While not quite to the level of Purge, I found this a solid read.
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, edelweiss
Thank you to Knopf Doubleday for providing me with an egalley copy of the book for review.
I was in Tallinn, Estonia a couple months ago for the first time and fell in love with the country. It’s so rich in culture and history, yet it’s sad to see that much of the world doesn’t pay too much attention to such an intriguing nature. The trip sparked an interest in further learning about their language, culture, and history, so when I saw Sofi Oksanen’s “When the Doves Disappear” I had to
Keeping ourselves informed about the state of the world behind the headlines, reading accounts of brutal situations, stupefied by facts, we may prefer fiction, where a sympathetic hero can lead us through the carnage to some kind of moral high ground where hope flutters and we can carry on uplifted.
Not so when we are called to witness the erosion of character and the desperate measures people resorted to under the pressures of war. So while I am forced to give 5 stars to this harsh book, for the
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When the Doves Disappeared is the second novel by Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen to be translated into English. Already a bestseller in Sweden and Finland, the novel was first published in 2012, and has recently been released by Atlantic Books. Publication in twenty-eight further countries worldwide will follow. Le Monde heralds When the Doves Disappeared ‘an explosive book with a dark heart’. The book’s blurb, which calls it ‘a story of surveillance, deception, passion, and betrayal’ also ...more
[3.5] I'd been waiting for this book for years, ever since I read Purge, so it was always going to have a lot to live up to.

The first few chapters were flat, and I was baffled that Oksanen, a writer who seems passionate and angry about so much, was phoning it in. The narratives of two of the three focal characters - Edgar and Juudit, both narrated in third-person - soon improved though, and became outright gripping, as the book transmuted from potboiler to pageturner. But the other, Roland, nev
Roger Brunyate
Tangled Loyalties

This is a difficult book to get into, for two reasons: names and history. The author, Finnish-Estonian Sofi Oksanen, introduces her characters by a single identifier—first name, last name, or simply a relationship (brother, cousin, husband, etc.)—and takes a long time to connect these up. But the worst problem is that the history of Estonia in the Second World War is just so darned complicated. It would be hard to learn the facts from this book (although that of course is not it
Viv JM
3.5 stars

I thought this was a very good historical novel, shedding light on the history of Estonia's occupation by Soviet and German forces, switching between two periods of time - the 1940s and 1960s. There is a strong theme of betrayal, both on a family level and a national level.

For me, though, it didn't have anywhere near the emotional impact of her earlier work, Purge. I have been trying to put my finger on why this was and I think that the depiction of two of the three main characters in
A number of years ago I decided to read some award winning books from other countries that had been translated to English. I quickly found out how important the translator was to the success of the book in English. I chose this book because of the problems going on in the world in the regions of Estonia, Ukraine, Poland and Finland. Sofi Oksanen is an award winning author and playwright in Finland. Her mother was born in Estonia and her father in Finland. She lives in Finland. She won the 2010 N ...more
Peter Turner
Sep 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
The book has some interesting topics, I know very little about Estonian history and the tragic 20th century, but the text was poorly written with very little information or explanation, it assumes that the reader knows the history. The plot is intriguing but so drawn out with bags of unnecessary description which adds nothing to the content. And the ending was predictable! I wouldn't recommend it, I only finished the book as I like a challenge ...more
Jeanne Ar C'hazh Koad
Oksanen's words are delicate, fragile and powerful. The story is mesmerising, with a stunning ending. Once you've started to read it, you become addicted. ...more
Laura Fortune
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
Well written but just couldn't keep my attention, very slow moving and slightly confusing due to all of the events and a lack of understanding of the historical references. ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finnish-lit
Beautiful historical fiction. Sofi Oksanen is one of the very few Finnish authors whom I'm always ready to read, she doesn't let me down. ...more
Vera 4theloveofwords
Sofi Oksanen's When the Doves disappeared was my reading group's first encounter with this somewhat theatrical Finnish-Estonian author and to be honest some entered into it a bit reluctantly. But the themes and historical facts we got introduced to made for such an intriguing read we had one of the best discussions ever. And they are legendary.

All that enthusiasm inspired me to try my hand at a mini-review.

Set in a war-ravaged Estonia this novel swings back and forth between Nazi and Soviet ru
Natalia Nirenberg
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about Estonia's 20th century history seen through the eyes of three very different characters.

The book focuses on the story of a rather unhappy marriage that spent many years apart throughout the Nazi and Soviet occupation.

Juudit feels very unfortunate with her marriage and takes the opportunity of her husband absence during the Nazi occupation to have an affair with a German officer. During this period, she finds herself involved in situations where her love for the German officer
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daisy by: LASofty
Completely satisfying.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Novel set in Estonia (“..a fascinating history of lives in turbulent times..”)

Set in Tallinn and the countryside of Estonia, this novel takes place during the turbulent years of 1941 to 1944 and 1963 to 1965. Before WWII Estonia was an independent country, which then became occupied by the Soviets and the story starts in the thick of a (1941) battle with Estonians fighting the Red Army, just before liberation (as they thought) by the Germans.

We follow the, very different, lives of Juudit and her
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The plot "twists" left me quite disappointed. The story kept me hoping until the end, and I like Oksanen's writing, but one could see the ending coming already on page 150 and nothing truly revealing happened for most of the book. So when I turned the last page there was only a dull feeling of time lost.
I also thought that the portrayal of Edgar was a bit too harsh. Total lack of empathy for someone who is labelled "sick" and "incapable man", and whose actions are very much triggered by the hate
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Sofi Oksanen was born in Finland to a Finnish father and an Estonian mother. In 2010 she won the Nordic Council's Literature Prize for her third novel (originally a play), Puhdistus (Purge). ...more

Other books in the series

Kvartetti (3 books)
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