Exposure by Helen Dunmore
I’ve always been a passionate fan of Helen Dunmore and devour her books greedily as they are published. Having said that, I found The Greatcoat a little disappointing, so it is a great relief to be able to fall in love with her work all over again with her latest publication Exposure.
It’s an intricate depiction of the claustrophobic paranoia of the Cold War years, where human frailties are exploited for political gain and private lives trampled over in the name of ideology. As always, her use of language is sublime, but I found myself being particularly drawn to the characters: flawed, sad, disappointed Giles whose failings land his protegee Simon into terrible trouble, and Simon’s resilient wife Lily. The novel resonates with things that cannot be spoken about, or can only be referred obliquely, and examines the price that is paid when people are unable to be fully honest with themselves or with other people. She captures perfectly the slow suffocation of secret lives and as always she achieves a perfect rendition of both time and place. it’s an incredibly satisfying read.