Though marketed as an espionage thriller, this suspenseful thriller is more precisely about the fragility of gay life in the UK half a century ago. It quickly becomes obvious that this will turn out to be a major underlying theme in the action that follows. Espionage also emerges as central in a significant way.
The novel opens with the inner dialogue of an inmate in a British prison in the winter of 1960. Nearly all the rest of the book consists of flashbacks. Immediately after the opening, we enter into the thoughts and feelings of a woman named Lily Callington, a mother of three young children. She is in her 30s, owns a heavily mortgaged house, and holds a job as a schoolteacher. Then we enter into the private life of Giles Holloway, a senior officer in the Admiralty. Giles reports to Julian Clowde, who has ensnared him in a mysterious activity that somehow involves government secrets. Simon Callington, Lily’s husband, is Giles’ protege, just as Giles is Julian’s. Now we have met all four principal characters in Exposure. The novel delves into the complex relationships among them.
Exposure by Helen Dunmore @@@@ (4 out of 5)
About the author
A prizewinning British poet and novelist, Helen Dunmore is the author of 14 adult novels, three short story collections, eight young adult novels, 13 children’s books, and 10 poetry collections — and she’s still writing at the age of 63. She’s published four books in the past five years. In other words, she’s both prolific and and unusually versatile writer.
For additional reading
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- The 10 top espionage novels reviewed on this site;
- 20 good nonfiction books about espionage; and
- Top 10 mystery and thriller series.
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