Helen Dunmore – Exposure

London, 1960. Simon and his wife Lily lead an average, rather boring life with their three children. He is a civil servant at the Admiralty, but albeit the Cold War is at a critical point, he is hardly affected by it due to lack of ambition. One evening, he gets a call from his old friend Giles who helped him to get his job. Giles had an accident and urgently needs Simon’s help. When the later learns what he has got to do, he is not especially happy about but, but far from guessing what this evening and the favour for a friend will make of his and his family’s life.
A very uncommon spy novel set in the middle of the Cold War. What we get here is a collection of individuals who are all very specific in their behaviour and motives which makes the novel very interesting. It is especially the wife, at the first glance a rather plain teacher who soon develops into a character with an interesting past and a clever woman who knows how to play the game. In the course of the novel, she is getting stronger and more fascinating, a woman who knows how to survive, who has seen everything and cannot be fooled or threatened by anybody.

Although it is a spy novel, the conspiracy part retreats behind the character’s development and the family struggle which is not presented as the typical husband-wife quarrels but a deep-going question about faith and trust. The plot itself seems to me very authentic, it is cleverly designed and although there is hardly any action, there is a constant suspense underlying which keeps you reading on.
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