The Betrayal, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


The Betrayal is the sequel to Helen Dunmore's hugely successful historical novel The Siege, set in Stalin's Russia.Leningrad, 1952. Andrei, a young hospital doctor and Anna, a nursery school teacher, are forging a life together in the post-war, post-siege wreckage.

But their happiness is precarious, like that of millions of Russians who must avoid the claws of Stalin's merciless Ministry for State security.

So when Andrei is asked to treat the seriously ill child of a senior secret police officer, he and Anna are fearful.

Trapped in an impossible, maybe unwinnable game, can they avoid the whispers and watchful eyes of those who will say or do anything to save themselves?The Betrayal is a powerful and touching novel of ordinary people in the grip of a terrible and sinister regime, and a moving portrait of a love that will not be extinguished. 'Beautifully crafted, gripping, moving, enlightening.

Sure to be one of the best historical novels of the year' Time Out'Scrupulous, pitch-perfect.

With heart-pounding force, Dunmore builds up a double narrative of suspense' Sunday Times'Magnificent, brave, tender...with a unique gift for immersing the reader in the taste, smell and fear of a story' Independent on SundayNovelist and poet Helen Dunmore has achieved great critical acclaim since publishing her first adult novel, the McKitterick Prize winning, Zennor in Darkness.

Her novels, Counting the Stars, Your Blue-Eyed Boy, With Your Crooked Heart, Burning Bright, House of Orphans, Mourning Ruby, A Spell of Winter, and Talking to the Dead, and her collection of short stories Love of Fat Men are all published by Penguin.

Helen also writes for children, her titles include The Deep and Ingo.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • ISBN: 9780141046839

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The Betrayal is a sequel of sorts to The Siege. You probably don’t need to have read it to understand the history and relationships of the characters, but it does help. The Betrayal takes place over ten years after The Siege under the last days of Stalin in Leningrad.Andrei is now a doctor and Anna now his wife. They have no children, but Anna’s brother Kolya is now a teenager living with them. The community lives in fear of being taken away by the secret police after false accusations from comrades. Anna and Andrei try to fly under the radar (except for Kolya’s piano playing disturbing the neighbours) but their quiet life is destroyed when a colleague asks for an opinion on a young child. This child is the only son of a man high up in the secret police. Unfortunately for Andrei, the child has cancer and it is he who tells the family and he who advises on treatment. When the cancer metastasises, Andrei and his colleagues are blamed and begin the descent to gaol and hell. Anna is left on the outside to pick up the pieces and hope for the unbelievable.The Betrayal was very successful at creating the intense fear that the characters felt – fear for being seen with someone, doing the wrong thing or even just under suspicion. The punishment was brutal, whether you were innocent or not. The last chapter, while summarising everything nicely, would have been a good plot of another book.A great book, I’m going to look out for more Helen Dunmore. She can take one idea and turn it into a very moving book.

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