“Exposure” by Helen Dunmore
London, 1960. The Cold War escalates and Simon Callington, a mid level government official, is falsely accused of spying for the Russians. As powerful men plot against Simon, his wife, Lily, must fight to protect herself and their children. Though innocent of the espionage charges, Simon must keep his wife from discovering his past.
This is a departure from many “spy” novels I’ve encountered to date. The minutiae of “spycraft” – the scheming, trickery and deception – routine in many other books is largely forsaken. Instead, the focus is on the relationships between Simon, Lily, their children and the forces against them and this provides an intriguing and interesting perspective from which to view this period of our recent history. The novel is set at the height of the tense stand off between the East and West and I was, initially, disappointed by the lack of familiar scenes and actions common among other books of this ilk. Helen Dunmore’s skilful writing and compassionate handling of her characters draws you in and you soon become absorbed.
The plot moves easily between the various characters, their differing motives, fears and expectations are deftly woven into an evocative tale. I especially liked Lilly; she has a strength and depth of character that builds and grows ever more fearsome as the tale unfolds.
I felt that the tale dipped a little in intensity in the mid section. However, it builds to a tense and pulsating finale that doesn’t disappoint.
All in all, this was a satisfying read and, with several of her books on my shelves, this won’t be my last exposure to the works of Helen Dunmore.
The Moustachioed Reader
My Rating: 3* out of 5*
Author: Helen Dunmore
Publication Date: 28th January 2016
Published by Hutchinson