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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,224 ratings  ·  511 reviews
Virtuoso storyteller Helen Dunmore returns with a thrilling Cold War espionage tale in which the closest ties are called into question and nobody is quite who they seem.

It’s London, 1960. The Cold War is at its height, and a spy may be a friend or neighbor, colleague or lover. Two colleagues, Giles Holloway and Simon Callington, face a terrible dilemma over a missing top-s
Hardcover, 391 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 28th 2016)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,224 ratings  ·  511 reviews

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Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Not my usual ' breakneck speed ' type of thriller, but very good nonetheless. It was quite subtle, but that air of menace was there throughout. It's primarily a spy story set in 1960's London. Simon is a rather unambitious civil servant working at The Admiralty. He lives an unremarkable life with his wife Lily, and their three children. When a Top Secret file goes missing, Simon is arrested and charged with espionage. Lily and the children feature most prominently as they try to cope with this n ...more
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
4 high stars. Helen Dunmore gets into her characters' heads like very few other writers. She did it in The Siege and The Betrayal, which I had previously read. And she does it in Exposure with simple, intense and straightforward prose. Exposure is not a spy novel -- it would be foolish to read it hoping to find the conventions of that genre. Rather, it is a period piece and a character study. It's hard to say anything without revealing too much. The story is set in 1960s England during the Cold ...more
Andrew Smith
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
If you enjoy the intrigue of a good spy story but you've struggled with John le Carre’s complex storylines then this might just be your ideal book.

It's London in 1960 and the Cold War is in full flow. Admiralty employee and family man Simon Callington is asked to carry out a favour for an old friend, Giles. Having picked up a file from his friend’s home he’s immediately regretting having taken this action, but is it already too late? Simon’s job was secured for him by the aforementioned friend.
Diane S ☔
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cold War era, Russian spies and paranoia, such were the times. I was so young then but remember duck and cover, the fear of my parents over the threat of a nuclear war. Once again Dunmore has done what she does best, infuse a period of history with characters caught up in something bigger than themselves. How those tainted with the word spy were at risk and so were their families. The atmosphere in this book really took me back it was done so effectively.

So it happens with Simon, a young man who
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
Helen Dunmore certainly knows how to write historical fiction. This book, set in an England when all Russians were suspected spies, everyone burned coal in open fireplaces, trains gushed forth smoke and you could actually buy things with a few pennies, has the exact atmosphere of the day.

It is hard to describe Exposure as a thriller. It is about spies but not much and it is certainly a slow burner. Mostly it tells of families and friends and the awful situations quite innocent people can find t
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have loved Helen Dunmore’s novels for many years and so was delighted to have the opportunity to review her latest work, “Exposure.” It is November, 1960, and London is in the grip of the Cold War and spy fever. Lily Callington lives with her husband, Simon, in Muswell Hill. He is a rather unambitious civil servant at the Admiralty and Lily teaches part time and looks after their children; Paul, Sally and Bridget. The couple are happy with their peaceful life. Simon enjoys going train spotting ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn’t have wished for a better start to my reading year than this captivating story of cover ups and double dealings set in the world of political espionage in 1960. I cannot quite believe I have just typed that because I don’t actually like spy stories but this read is not so much to do with the secrets that are being handed over, as the people caught up in the drama when things go wrong. In fact you don’t even find out what the secrets are because they are not important to the story.

It is
♥ Jx PinkLady Reviews ♥

A slow paced suspense with espionage and the exploration of what one is prepared to do for love. On the whole it was an ok read for me with elements I found intriguing. Character driven and very well written but I didn't always feel like the narrative carried the story arc forward and therefore it did not always greatly hold my attention.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exposure is the first book I have read by Helen Dunmore, an author I was keen to sample having heard good things about her. This book lived up to my expectations.

The plot is set in 1960, at the height of the Cold War, and revolves around a missing file and an accusation of spying. The plot is not what drives the novel though, it is merely a device for exploring identity and secrets, and which lays bare the perspectives, backstories and psychology of a range of different characters.

Exposure is

Set yourself in a time zone of the 1960's when the Cold war was at its peak. Then you are in the mindset of how to read this story.

You don't know if your friend can be trusted or neighbour is who they say they are.
This has a spy 'taste' about it because of its era and time zone.

A file goes missing. Its Top Secret.
Lilly's husband Simon is blamed for this.
Here starts not only the nightmare for Simon, but for his wife and children and all those that know him.

Helen Dunmore is a brilliant author th
Joy Stephenson
I was expecting this to be a spy thriller, which it isn’t, and so I found it very slow paced for the first 80 or so pages. Then however I became drawn into the characters’ lives and emotions and I was thoroughly engaged from about half-way through.
This novel is about relationships: parent-child, husband-wife, lovers, friends. It is set in 1960 and the ‘feel’ of the era seems exactly right.
Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
I’ve been a fan of Helen Dunmore ever since I read “The Siege” many years ago, still one of my favorite historical fiction novels.

Her great strength is the ability to create fully dimensional characters and build the plot around them. In “Exposure” the main characters are Simon and Lily Carrington who live in North London. They are at first glimpse a “typical” middle class family. She is a teacher and he works in “The Admiralty” in what appears to be a fairly mid-level position. Everything chan
Roger Brunyate
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-lesbian
The Home Front in the Cold War

Many of the notorious British spies unmasked during the Cold War (Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt) were recruited at Cambridge University in the 1930s. Many (but by no means all) of the spies were also gay men at a time when homosexual acts were illegal in Britain; they were thus already accustomed to a life of deception, while their sexuality was a lever that could be used against them. Helen Dunmore's novel makes reference to real people and events, setting it fir
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
Another great novel from Helen Dunmore.

Exposure is set at the heart of the Cold War in November, 1960. Simon and Lily Carrington live in North London. Simon works at the Admiralty, keeps his head down and has a relatively ordinary life. However, this is turned upside down when he is accused of espionage.

As with any Dunmore novel this is more about the people than the action and personal secrets are revealed as Lily and Simon’s life descends into a nightmare.

There’s some great characterisation h
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about secrets and lies and, ultimately, forgiveness. It is a book that is raw with fear and it vibrates with Lily's overwhelming need to protect her children and keep them safe from harm. Exposure falls within the spy novel genre but this book is not for those who like their action fast and furious. Instead, Dunmore takes her reader deep inside her characters and lays bare their innermost thoughts and fears. I loved being inside 11-year-old Paul's head as he sat his trial eleven-p ...more
This has been my first Helen Dunmore novel.

At the centre of the story are the Callingtons, Simon and his German-born, Jewish wife, Lily and their three children. Simon works for the Admiralty. Lily works as a part-time teacher.

Simon gets into trouble and is accused of espionage, all this mess self-induced after retrieving a file from Giles' house, an old friend and colleague.

As Simon's predicament makes the news, Lily and the kids have to deal with the aftermath. Not an easy situation to cope w
Cold War espionage...

When fading Communist spy Giles Holloway falls drunkenly down his stairs and breaks his leg, he must somehow get the Top Secret file he has “borrowed” back to the Admiralty before anyone notices it's missing. So he turns to his old friend and colleague Simon Callington for help. But Giles is under observation and someone sees Simon collecting the file. And so Simon is sucked into a situation that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.

It's almost impossible to write a
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
What a wonderful writer Helen Dunmore was. ‘Exposure’ is a unique story of secrets and spies in mid 20th c England. Occasionally, it reminded me of The Railway Children but this is no children’s storybook!
Dunmore expertly manages multiple points-of-view and even made unlikeable characters sympathetic.
The baddies are a bit stereotypical (but perhaps rooted in real life) and her heroine is a bit too good (but perhaps that makes us underestimate her).
The story ends (as it has done throughout) lea
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The story is set in London in the 1960, the cold war is at its height.

Giles Holloway who is always up to his eyes in whisky. His mansion flat has a secret attic with a desk. He takes top-secret files home and places them in his briefcase.

Giles takes a tumble-down the stairs and smashed his leg badly. While he is in hospital what will happen to his top secret files that are in his briefcase?
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Reviewed on

Exposure by Helen Dunmore is a vivid, aborning story. It’s about spies and secrecy, but it’s not a thriller. It’s more of a slow but beautifully written tale about a family and their struggles, together and apart, as they come to terms with what Simon has been accused of.

Helen Dunmore writes beautifully, as ever. Even when there isn’t a huge deal going on, I was completely absorbed into the story and didn’t really want it to end. You get a real sense of the family’
Ellie M
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fiction, historical
A very solid 4* read. And again a story set in the Cold War (probably my favourite historical period of recent history). This is a novel about secrets.

The story opens with a woman, a wife and mother, burying a suitcase in her garden. It's a suitcase her husband was sent to retrieve from a colleague / friend's house. There are secrets inside which need to remain hidden. Her husband had to decide whether to take the briefcase back to his office (which would ultimately mean he would be implicated i
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Review to follow...
Britta Böhler
Sadly, this was not quite as good as I had hoped it to be. The plot-twists were predictable and many of the character's actions were rather unbelievable.
Helen Goltz
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was provided by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A compelling take on a classic genre, this book will captivate you!

I am not traditionally a reader of spy novels so let me say upfront that "Exposure" is a great find for anyone who enjoys the crime, thriller, and literary genres. The focus is on the characters; their actions and reactions. Every character is so well-drawn and distinct with their set of strengths and weaknesses, that you know them, understand them and can see th
Karen Mace
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, netgalley
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review.

This book is set in London in 1960 at the height of the cold war, and the writing style is so stylish and detailed that you are immediately drawn in and feel like you are a fly on the wall to the every thought and feeling of the main characters.

:Lily is a teacher in Muswell Hill, and mum to 3 children. Her husband, Simon works quietly as a civil servant in the Admirality and when a Top Secret file goes missing th
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
I've read books by Helen Dunmore in the past and always been impressed by the quality of the writing. The start of this book exhibits the same skill. It has well crafted and evocative writing giving a feel of the time and place; London in the 1960s mainly.

This is the story of Simon, Giles and Lily (or maybe Lili). The writing creates the feel of an earlier time with concerns about fairly mundane day to day life coupled with the Cold War and national security. I'd rather not give away too much ab
Two of my GR friends rated this highly and I am glad I picked up the audiobook. While espionage is at the center of this novel, it is not a thriller. Rather it is a story about secrets, and hidden identities. It is 1960 in London and Simon, father of three and Lily's husband works in the government in a department which handles sensitive information. Lilly was a Jewish refugee from Germany at the time of World War II. Her mother wouldn't allow her to speak German after they moved the England, an ...more
Carol Peace
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Helen Dunmore book but I really love the way she writes. I was intergued by the blurb and was expecting a spy story but this was so much more. Yes the plot what based around espionage but the way we were introduced to the individual characters and how I really felt part of their world was so compelling. I loved that we also got to see the family and previous lives of the home office workers that are caught up in a truly convcing plot. It's so easy to see how people can be manipu ...more
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
After a slow start when you're not quite sure what's going on, this book wraps its tentacles around you and barely lets you breathe. It's set in London in 1960, when the Cold War is at its height and suspicions are high. Simon Callington works in a low level position at the Admiralty. He is happily married to Lily, a part time teacher, with three children. Their life is quiet but happy.

One night Simon receives a panic-stricken call from a colleague and old friend, asking him to do him a favour.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exposure is set in the Cold war of the 1960. It's about Simon and Lily Carrington and they live in Muswell Hill. Simon works for the Admiralty and Lily is a part time school teacher. They also have 3 children.

Simon is called one day from his old friend and work colleague Giles. He has an accident an he hasn't returned a Top secret file back to the office and that's where the trouble starts. He rings Simon and asks him to return it. Simon instead of bringing it to Giles' secretary Brenda brings
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Around the Year i...: Exposure, by Helen Dunmore 1 9 Oct 01, 2017 09:04PM  
  • Tightrope (Marian Sutro, #2)
  • Dorothea's War
  • Keeping the World Away
  • Devotion (My Dear I Wanted to Tell You #3)
  • The Dead Shall be Raised & Murder of a Quack (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #4-5)
  • Operation Whisper: The Capture of Soviet Spies Morris and Lona Cohen
  • Noonday (Life Class, #3)
  • The Quaker (Duncan McCormack #1)
  • A Treachery of Spies (Capitaine Inés Picaut #2)
  • The Night of Wenceslas
  • Paris Spring
  • The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War
  • Landed
  • Land i datid
  • Can Any Mother Help Me?
  • Summer in February
  • Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
  • The Turning of the Tide
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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“Lily had lived in fear before she knew why she was afraid. She'd grown up knowing that people hated her. Perfectly ordinary people, the kind of adults who ought to be helping her to cross the road, hated Lily and wanted her gone. That was the climate of her childhood.
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