Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Purge” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Kvartetti #2)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  14,214 ratings  ·  1,184 reviews
An international sensation, Sofi Oksanen's award-winning novel Purge is a breathtakingly suspenseful tale of two women dogged by their own shameful pasts and the dark, unspoken history that binds them.

When Aliide Truu, an older woman living alone in the Estonian countryside, finds a disheveled girl huddled in her front yard, she suppresses her misgivings and offers her sh
Paperback, 390 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Purge, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Stef Rozitis Surely you read the book to answer questions like that?

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,214 ratings  ·  1,184 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Purge
Amalia Gkavea
''The silence has been peculiar that year-expectant, yet at the same time like the aftermath of a storm''.

Once in a while, there are books that leave you powerless. Books that rise beyond any attempt of reviewing, that intimidate you and make you feel that whatever words you may use, they are bound to be mundane, detrimental, inadequate. Sofi Oksnanen's Purge is such a book.

I have it as my personal principle to make no judgement regarding historical events. Human History is made of endless c
Jim Fonseca
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a great book! And first of all thanks to 7Jane of Finland and Jim of New Hampshire who recommended Finnish authors and works to me.

This is a psychological thriller set in rural Estonia. There are only two major characters. The first is an elderly woman who, as we learn her story, is the textbook definition of a survivor She been through WW II, starvation, rape, torture, a dead husband and lost family. Her only remaining family members, a sister and a niece, were exiled to far eastern Russi

I don’t have to like people I’m reading about but I like to understand them. Their behaviors and motivations. I like them multidimensional. I may disagree with them, despise sometimes, hate even. But I like when they make me uncomfortable, when they prove me how lucky I’m not being them or how wrong I was in my assumptions.

Purge is dense and suffocating reading, full of secrets, resentments and lies. Sofi Oksanen has created a very ambiguous and unsettling protagonists and while it is pretty

It's a rare occasion when the title for a book reveals itself as evidence of not a whim or facile plucking of a simplistic keyword, but of cold and careful analysis of the very viscera of the work. Even more of a feat when considering that the book is a translation, and that the title could have easily been ruined by the commercial gauging of the US market. The original title of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was Män som hatar kvinnor. Translated literally, Men Who Hate Wom
Purge was my introduction to Sofi Oksanen and, in fact, my introduction to Finnish lit in general (Oksanen herself is Finnish-Estonian). I think this is a fascinating, flawed, and surprising book; it both delivers what it claims to on the blurb, and also takes the story in a direction that I was not at all expecting. Set in twentieth century Estonia, Purge follows the lives of two women, Aliide and Zara; Aliide is an older woman living alone in a remote Estonian village, and Zara is a young sex ...more
Jake Rideout
Feb 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm always a little nervous when I pick up a translated novel, because I've read a lot of bad translations in my day. Thanks to authors like Henning Mankell, Steig Larsson, and Ninni Holmqvist, there are more and more great translations coming from previously overlooked parts of the world. This is one of them. Oksanen is a new Finnish-Estonian novelist, and this is not the last you'll hear of her. Purge tells the story of two women: Aliide Truu, who lives alone in the Estonian countryside, and Z ...more
Jul 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have an affinity to books where the characters outshine the storyline. Such volumes craft a distinct memory that never seems to fade for years creating an imaginary bond with those characters; experiencing their pain and suffrage through your smallest nerves.Zara and Aliide will never die away from my mind as long as I will remember.

'Purge' is not a book about bulimia or anorexia. It is a metaphor for all those sinister culpabilities that an individual buries within his/her heart until the mom
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is bigger and stronger than it looks. I'm not sure how to do it justice, or even how to describe its place in the genre spectrum: feminist, literary, historical crime fiction, maybe, although that's still all over the spectrum. Purge most poignantly draws attention to the very clear thread between sexual violence and military occupation. It connects big picture violence (war and occupation) with more personal conflict and interpersonal tragedy (who betrays whom, and how, and why; how i ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Anachronist by: rameau

You can call this book a tale of two sisters and indeed, it reminded me of all these folk songs about sibling rivalry. Ingel and Aliide, two Estonian peasant girls, had a very bad luck of falling for the same German boy. Ingel was very pretty, even beautiful, and whatever she did, she did it always better than other girls. Aliide was less pretty and less gifted, completely overshadowed by her perfect sister. The boy in question, Hans Pekk, chose Ingel. They married, were very happy and
Viv JM
Purge is a very unsettling read indeed. It tells the story of two women of different generations, against a backdrop of the Soviet occupation of Estonia. Each woman has secrets to hide, and these are slowly revealed over the course of the book. There is a strong undercurrent of violence and fear, though the violence is rarely explicitly described. And there are flies - so many flies. I am not sure what that is all about but read the book and you'll see what I mean!! ...more
Yes, it really is that good.

And I have been tired of books about the Second World War and the Eastern Bloc these last fifteen years, I nearly always avoid fiction where the plot appears to focus on women as victims, and I wasn't keen on the title, sounding as it does like a bulimia memoir from the "Painful Lives" section at WH Smith.

Not only did Purge, within its first few pages of bloody excellent writing, kick squarely through these barriers; by half-way through it even had me wanting to read
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finland, estonia
World War II and the cold war gave birth to the modern spy thriller, where everything was about uncovering secrets and false loyalties. In Purge, Oksanen seems to bury it once and for all, while at the same time reminding her readers that there are always going to be those who remember where the bodies are buried. The wars are over here, democracy and freedom have won the day, the KGB archives are opened, the oppressed are getting back what they lost and all the old lies are going to be uncovere ...more
The main character in this fictional account of recent Estonian history is by turns heroic, blind, idealistic, stupid, endearing, despicable, faithful, disloyal, good, evil. And yet the author manages to make us love her in spite of everything. Oksanen also creates a very coherent story out of what at first appears to be no more than a series of horrifying fragments. A story that unfortunately resonates with a lot of truth. These things happened and are still happening. Will the Horror mankind i ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Purge is a very impressive book about the tragic history of an Estonian family in the 20th century, which is characterized by war, occupation, violence, betrayal and humiliation. The book begins with an elderly woman in western Estonia finding a young woman in front of her house in the woods in 1992. She is maltreated and abused. It turns out, that she’s the granddaughter of her sister, who grew up in Siberia. But how did it happen that this young woman named Zara shows up so suddenly? And why i ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I need counselling now!!!
Dec 21, 2012 added it
Purge by Sofi Oksanen (Trans. from the Finnish by Lola Rogers. Black Cat, 2010)

Having grown up in a communist country, I am skeptical when it comes to successful novels about communism written by writers who haven’t experienced it firsthand. That’s why even before I checked to see if Sofi Oksanen has grown up in Estonia, where her novel takes place, I suspected she hasn’t. It turns out she is Estonian on her mother’s side, but born in Finland. This is not to say that Oksanen’s novel isn’t good:
I'm still raw after reading this. Not because of the gruesome bits of the plot, but because for the first time in a really long while I read a Finnish book by a Finnish author, and I don't know what to think. Too many times the pretentiousness has kept me away from domestic literary, but this time I'm glad I gave this book a chance.

Zara is the catalyst that brings life to a dormant life and allows Aliide finally let go of her past - some of it at least. The reader is walked through two differen
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Daisy by: Amy Henry
Flies: a recurring theme. I mean presence. Character?

Interesting to grow to dislike the main character, Aliide, the more I read. The very end though has me stumped. Am I stupid? Did I miss something or is that last section unnecessary?

I didn't learn that much even though I've never read anything about Estonia before. I have read lots of Russian and Soviet stuff so some of that "tension" is familiar, all that not-knowing-who-you-can-trust stuff. I did love the details like horseradish in pickles
I can still smell this novel; the sweat, the onions, the rayon dresses that must be burned because a certain man looked at you the wrong way, touched you the wrong way. Aliide Truu is an older woman living alone in her house in the Estonian countryside. One morning she notices a mound in her garden. A mound with blonde hair. A mound that, once Aliide decides to go outside and have a look, is wearing expensive stockings and is missing a slipper. Through a series of flashbacks we get to know the s ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Part psychological thriller, part historical fiction, this book was not at all what I expected. You should avoid reading reviews if possible because too many give away too much, but to give a general idea, the novel begins in Estonia in 1992, where an old woman, Aliide Truu, lives alone in the countryside in an atmosphere of fear and decay. She finds a young woman, Zara, lying crumpled in her yard, and the story follows the relationship between these women and the explosive secrets they carry, t ...more
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow. And I thought "Girl with the dragon tattoo" was too violent. This book takes some extreme examples of violent sexual abuse toward women and wraps a story about two women, somewhat related, around it. The authors intent here shows how little methods of control and abuse by men have changed; only the motivations have changed--as in then: political; now: profit. The horrors endured by these two have given them an uncommon common ground and their stories spin out backward from their first meeti ...more
Purge by Sofi Oksanen is set in a rural village in the region of Läänemaa, west Estonia. The book is translated from Finnish by Lola Rogers.

It is a novel of two histories, one in the late 1930's and 1940's when Aliide and her sister Ingel were adolescents, spanning the changes in their lives after Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union and renamed Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (ESSR) and the other in the early 1990's when a Russian-Estonian girl Zara, turns up unannounced seeking refuge.

Oct 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is propably the most hyped book in Finland since the days of Väinö Linna and Mika Waltari. For me, it was rather hard to understand why.

To give a short introduction on the many problems this book had: first, the writer made the basic mistake of all mediocre writers, which is to explain too much. I am talking, of course, about the psychological explanations with the characters. Its amazing how much you can explain the character's behavior without actually giving the character any depth. Some
You don't hear about this part of the world as often as you should. Here is one fiction writer who puts her homeland on the map with this novel of vivid imagery. A moving story of what women face during conflicts, what women faced during the Estonian conflict.

My problem was where the story started for me. Yes it was meant to be suspenseful but I felt teased. I think the plot could have been intertwined more with the suspense. It wasn't until I reached page 68, that I knew I wanted to keep readi
A dark story full of violence, betrayal, guilt and horror, set in a rather depressing place and time, written in a bleak way - no, this isn't any kind of happy-go-lucky-story. However, reading this was most satisfying, since as a dark novel, as a work of literary fiction that makes one fret, it delivers on all accounts.

It's a story of two women, seperated by many years and lots of history, united in their fate largely shaped by men (and their own reactions towards what these men do - or didn't d
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
This book tells the story of three generations of Estonian women (and the men in their lives). The book chapters jump in time to tell the tale of some horrifying events in their lives which correspond to the historical events which take Estonia, in general, and their rural village specifically through WWII, soviet rule and independence.

The story centers around two women, Aliide Truu and Zara who is the victim of a sex-trafficking operation and ends up in Aliide's home while running away from he
Missy J
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Estonian forest.

Wow! What a story!

Wow! What a story! If it weren't for my book club, I wouldn't have picked this book up! I tried reading this four years ago, but due to a hectic schedule, gave up. However, four days ago, I picked it up again and was sucked into the story!

Where do I begin? One morning in 1992, Aliide Truu, an elderly woman, who used to be a Communist when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union, finds a bruised young woman in her garden. Now if I were Aliide, I would have rushed ou
Elizabeth (Alaska)
My thoughts are all over the place. I think if I had not first read her When the Doves Disappeared, I might not have had any understanding of what happened to Estonia in WWII. It was invaded by the Soviets, then "rescued" by the Germans, only to return to Soviet rule before war's end. There is only a passing mention of German occupation in this, instead focusing on the tyranny and brutality of the Soviets.

I hereby emphasize the brutality. This book is not for the squeamish nor faint-of-heart. T
Jun 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. For the first time in a long time I can honestly say that I am proud about being Finnish and proud about the fact that I speak language such as Finnish as my mother tongue.

After winning the Finlandia Prize (the most prestigious literary award in Finland, awarded to the best fiction book, best children's book and best non-fiction book, 30,000 euros) Sofi Oksanen has been everywhere. Literally. She is in the news, in the newspapers, everywhere. Probably a week after she won the prize I got t
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Häräntappoase
  • Juoksuhaudantie
  • Täällä Pohjantähden alla 1–3
  • Missä kuljimme kerran
  • Kissani Jugoslavia
  • The Unknown Soldier
  • Hytti nro 6
  • Bolla
  • He eivät tiedä mitä tekevät
  • Taivaslaulu
  • Totta
  • Leijat Helsingin yllä (Helsingforskvartetten, #1)
  • Seven Brothers
  • Tõde ja õigus I
  • Neljäntienristeys
  • Oneiron
  • Raja
  • Sonja O. kävi täällä
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
381 likes · 37 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“She found it hard to believe that there would be any bold moves, because too many people had dirty flour in their bags, and people with filthy fingers are hardly enthusiastic about digging up the past.” 10 likes
“Madre patria, contigo estoy triste, sin ti lo estoy más.” 4 likes
More quotes…