House of Orphans, Paperback
3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


House of Orphans is bestselling author Helen Dunmore's ninth novel.

Finland, 1902, and the Russian Empire enforces a brutal policy to destroy Finland's freedom and force its people into submission.

Eeva, orphaned daughter of a failed revolutionary, also battles to find her independence and identity.

Destitute when her father dies, she is sent away to a country orphanage, and then employed as servant to a widowed doctor, Thomas Eklund.

Slowly, Thomas falls in love with Eeva ...but she has committed herself long ago to a boy from her childhood, Lauri, who is now caught up in Helsinki's turmoil of resistance to Russian rule.

Set in dangerous, unfamiliar times which strangely echo our own, the story reveals how terrorism lies hidden within ordinary life, as rulers struggle to hold on to power.

House of Orphans is a rich, brilliant story of love, history and change. "Vivid and exciting...Dunmore creates a beautiful sense of stillness ...she conveys a passion for Finland's icy landscape". (Observer). "Part love story, part tragedy...Dunmore on dazzling form.

Everyone should read her work". (Independent on Sunday). "Outstanding, a sheer pleasure to read. Dunmore is a remarkable storyteller". (Daily Mail). Helen Dunmore is the author of twelve novels: Zennor in Darkness, which won the McKitterick Prize; Burning Bright; A Spell of Winter, which won the Orange Prize; Talking to the Dead; Your Blue-Eyed Boy; With Your Crooked Heart; The Siege, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2002; Mourning Ruby; House of Orphans; Counting the Stars; The Betrayal, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010, and The Greatcoat.

She is also a poet, children's novelist and short-story writer.




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my least favourite of Helen Dunmore's books so far.

Review by

I found the first hundred or so pages quite difficult to get through, as I warmed neither to the prose or to the characters. I became somewhat more interested in the second hundred pages, and significantly more interested in the last hundred or so pages. My interest rose as the book became a little more dramatic, but the final third also worked best because it made sense of what went before. It is actually quite surprising that it took me so long to get into this , since it has much in come with Dunmore's novel The Siege, about Leningrad during the Second World War, which was book I very much enjoyed. As well as sharing a similar northern geography, both books follow a young couple in love, trying to survive in spite of the impact of the political situation in which they find themselves. House of Orphans just took longer to impress me.

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