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Exposure by Helen Dunmore


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A wonderfully tense and arresting Cold War relationship tale, stuffed full to the brim with suspense. Set in 1960, couple Lily and Simon become caught in an unbelievably powerful web of lies. Normal everyday life intermingles with the hidden, and secrets are set to be exposed as the story slips with subtlety along the edge of an uncertain path. Some of the characters are not necessarily likeable, others are positively loathsome, but they all feel so very real. Helen Dunmore handles the intrigue with a masterly hand, hints and suggestions slither and slide through the story, creating uneasiness and suspicion. It is the small but not insignificant things that really bring this tale to life, the descriptions and the feelings create a vibrant ring of truth. ‘Exposure’ is an evocative, thrilling tale that I recommend setting aside some quality time for, once I started reading, I simply didn't want to stop. ~ Liz Robinson

August 2016 Book of the Month.

If you like Helen Dunmore you might also like to read books by David Benioff, Paullina Simons and Emma Tennant.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Sue Broom - 'Lily is one of Helen Dunmore’s most vivid and endearing creations.  I loved everything about this book - a great start to the 2016 reading year.'
  • Katrina Oliver - 'A fascinating and thrilling story of the life of those involved in spying for the Russians during the Cold War in Britain. Highly recommended!'
  • Gavin Dimmock - '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.'
  • Elaine Lowe - 'Helen Dunmore has successfully captured a true feeling of the 1960's in this intriguing novel...beautifully written.'
  • Sarah Musk - 'A beautifully written book about the effect of betrayal and imprisonment on an ordinary family.  Helen Dunmore is always worth reading for interesting characters full of depth.'
  • Lorraine Blencoe - 'an absorbing and finely woven story that's typical of Helen Dunmore.... Looking forward to whatever this gifted writer comes up with next.'
  • Katrina Oliver - 'A fascinating and thrilling story of the life of those involved in spying for the Russians during the Cold War in Britain. Highly recommended!'
  • Sue Broom - 'Lily is one of Helen Dunmore’s most vivid and endearing creations.  I loved everything about this book - a great start to the 2016 reading year.'
  • Pam Kennedy - 'A very good read and an interesting story, I really enjoyed it.'
  • Karen McIntosh - 'Wonderfully tense thriller set in Cold War era London. A brilliant read.'
  • Sandra Rabiasz - 'Not just a Cold War tale of espionage but a beautifully observed story about love and betrayal.'
  • Jillian McFrederick - 'In her inimitable style Helen Dunmore tells the tale set in England during the Cold War...A great read.'
  • Sarah Jones - 'A great read and evocative of the period.'
  • Ray Orgill - 'An excellent read for the espionage fan.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'If you like books about elicit love and lies during war time then this book would be an excellent choice.'
  • Angie Rhodes - 'a really good read.'
  • Deborah Mika - 'I enjoyed the ending of the novel and the twist.'
  • Allison Batten - 'Set in the Cold War in the 1960's it is well written and had great potential to be a page turning thriller. It just wasn't for me unfortunately!'


Exposure by Helen Dunmore

Forbidden love, intimate betrayal and the devastating power of exposure drive Helen Dunmore's remarkable new novel. London, November, 1960: the Cold War is at its height. Spy fever fills the newspapers, and the political establishment knows how and where to bury its secrets. When a highly sensitive file goes missing, Simon Callington is accused of passing information to the Soviets, and arrested. His wife, Lily, suspects that his imprisonment is part of a cover-up, and that more powerful men than Simon will do anything to prevent their own downfall. She knows that she too is in danger, and must fight to protect her children. But what she does not realise is that Simon has hidden vital truths about his past, and may be found guilty of another crime that carries with it an even greater penalty.


'A gripping, subtle, emotional novel.' Sadie Jones, author of The Outcast By the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lie

'Helen Dunmore delivers a deceptively simple masterpiece, a new take on the lives of the men and -particularly - the women caught up in the cold war ... Exposure is magnificent' -- Cole Moreton Independent on Sunday

'Exposure is the sort of winter read you hanker for...the period is so meticulously re-created that you almost hear the hiss of the gas streetlamps' -- Melissa van der Klugt The Times

'Dunmore packs an impressive amount on to a compact canvas. Full of convincing detail, the novel is as much about sexuality in the age of the Chatterley ban as about Whitehall skulduggery ... A dramatic mix of domesticity and derring-do ... Like many of the best spy novels, Exposure sets out to unsettle Britain's view of itself.' Sunday Telegraph

'Under its smooth, naturalistic surfaces, Exposure has a tightly wrought plot gripping as any thriller. But it is the union of this plot with complex, challenging characters that makes the book such a surprising and fulfilling read...will haunt you for months, if not years.' -- Kate Clanchy Guardian

'It is an intriguing set-up, and with Dunmore at its helm this tale of divided loyalties never lets up for a minute ... Dunmore is such a class act ... she sticks to the human essentials of her story, does not over-complicate things, and comes up trumps yet again.' Mail on Sunday

About the Author

Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore was the author of fourteen novels. Her first, Zennor in Darkness, explored the events which led to D H Lawrence’s expulsion from Cornwall (on suspicion of spying) during the First World War. It won the McKitterick Prize. Her third novel, A Spell of Winter, won the inaugural Orange Prize, now the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Siege, set during the Siege of Leningrad, was described by Antony Beevor as ‘a world-class novel’ and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year and the Orange Prize.

Helen Dunmore’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages and she was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She died in June 2017.

Author photo © Caroline Forbes

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Book Info

Publication date

4th August 2016


Helen Dunmore

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Windmill Books an imprint of Cornerstone


400 pages


Action Adventure / Spy
Books of the Month
Crime / Mystery
Family Drama
Historical Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Espionage & spy thriller



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